Bell's V-280 Valor will replace 3,000 Black Hawks and Apache helicopters

This is the first helicopter purchase by the U.S. Army in over 40 years.
Christopher McFadden
valor3.jpg
The Valor is set to enter service in around 2030.

Bell 

According to Business Wire, Textron's Bell will make the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). This is the largest helicopter purchase the Army has made in the past 40 years.

Around 2030, potentially 2,000 Black Hawk utility helicopters and 1,200 Apache assault helicopters will be replaced by a $1.3 billion purchase for the next-generation helicopter, reported Defense News. The FLRAA won't replace current aircraft one-for-one, but it will take over the functions of the Black Hawk and Apache, which have long been the Army's mainstays for transporting troops to and around the battlefield.

The Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program, which started in 2013, led to the development and testing of Bell's V-280 Valor tiltrotor, which is the basis for the award.

What's so special about the V-280 Valor?

The V-280 is built for a top speed of around 300 knots (345 mph/556 kph) and should have a maximum range of around 2,440 nautical miles (4,419 km) before refueling to meet the U.S. Army's requirements for the FLRAA.

Maximum takeoff weight is anticipated to be around 30,000 pounds (14,000 kg). Unlike the very similar Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the engines on the V-280 are kept in position while the rotors and drive shafts tilt.

In the case of an engine failure, both prop rotors can be driven by a single engine thanks to a driveshaft that passes through the straight wing. Retractable landing gear, a triple-redundant fly-by-wire control system, and a V-tail design will all be features of the V-280.

Bell's V-280 Valor will replace 3,000 Black Hawks and Apache helicopters
The Valor is one impressive piece of kit.

The V-280 was carefully designed, built, and tested in flight for over three years. This gave much information about the aircraft's technological and operational advantages for the long-range assault role.

"We are honored that the U.S. Army has selected the Bell V-280 Valor as its next-generation assault aircraft," said Scott C. Donnelly, Textron's chairman and chief executive officer. "We intend to honor that trust by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army's mission requirements. We are excited to play an important role in the future of Army Aviation," he added.

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"This is an exciting time for the U.S. Army, Bell, and Team Valor as we modernize the Army's aviation capabilities for decades to come," said Mitch Snyder, president, and CEO of Bell. "Bell has a long history supporting Army Aviation, and we are ready to equip Soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable, and affordable high-performance long-range assault weapon system in the world," he also said.

The contract award is a nod to Bell's illustrious history

This award builds on ten years of advancements made by the V-280 Valor in design, production, and comprehensive testing to show that this aircraft would meet FLRAA program standards. Bell and its industry partners have thoroughly validated the V-280 aircraft, and its modular open systems approach in cooperation with the Army.

Bell's V-280 Valor will replace 3,000 Black Hawks and Apache helicopters
Bell's Valor is scheduled for active service by 2030.

"For the past several years, the Bell team demonstrated the exceptional operational capabilities, digital thread synergies, and platform affordability enhancements the V-280 provides," said Keith Flail, executive vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. "Bell stands ready with our world-class manufacturing facilities to apply our nearly seven decades of tiltrotor expertise to deliver a modern FLRAA fleet to the Army."

The initial contract refines the manufacture, systems integration, manufacturing, sustainment, digital enterprise, flight-testing, and airworthiness certification of combat systems.

This contract award also expands on Bell's more than 85-year history of providing more than 30,000 reliable vertical lift equipment to military and commercial customers in the United States and abroad.

Editorial note:

The article has been updated to correct a typo on the header and clarify the number of Black Hawk and Apache helicopters that the V-280 will potentially replace. We have also amended the section on the V-280's vital statistics, such as range, top speed, etc., to match the requirements of the FLRAA.

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