Bell, Sikorsky Awarded CD&RR Agreements for U.S. Army Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Program

The U.S. Army has awarded Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) agreements to Bell Textron and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky for its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.

Bell is offering the V-280 Valour tiltrotor aircraft for the FLRAA program while Sikorsky is offering the SB-1 Defiant coaxial compound helicopter jointly developed with Boeing.

The FLRAA program was initiated by the Army in 2019 to develop a successor to the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter as part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

The UH-60, developed in the early 1970s, has been in service since June 1979. Like the UH-60, FLRAA variants would also serve the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC). Under the existing Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program, the Army has been gathering data from flying prototype designs that could fill the FLRAA role.

According to an RFI posted last year, the Army plans to bring the FLRAA into service in 2030, in anticipation of retiring the UH-60 after a 50-year life.

Bell V-280 Valour

The Bell V-280 Valor is a tiltrotor aircraft being developed by Bell and Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

The V-280 was officially unveiled at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America’s (AAAA) Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas.

In one major difference from Bell’s earlier V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the engines of the V-280 remain in place while the rotors and drive shafts tilt. A driveshaft runs through the straight wing, allowing both prop rotors to be driven by a single-engine in the event of an engine loss.

The aircraft is reported to be designed for a cruising speed of 280 knots (hence the name V-280), a top speed of 300 knots, a range of 2,100 nautical miles, and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi. The expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 pounds.

The V-280 made its first flight on 18 December 2017 in Amarillo, Texas.

Bell V-280 Valor
Bell V-280 Valor.

Sikorsky–Boeing SB-1 Defiant

The SB-1 Defiant (stylized as SB>1) is a new generation helicopter jointly developed by Sikorsky and Boeing.

The aircraft has a compound helicopter design with a pair of counter-rotating rigid coaxial main rotors and one pusher propeller. Compared to a conventional helicopter, this design offers a 100-knot speed increase, a 60% combat radius extension, and 50% better performance in high-hot hover performance.

The Defiant demonstrator is powered by the Honeywell T55 turboshaft engine, which powers the CH-47 Chinook tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter. A new engine, the Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE), is being developed by GE Aviation for the FVL helicopters including the SB-1.

The design will have a cruise speed of 250 knots (290 mph) and a range of 229 NM (when powered by FATE engine). The aircraft performed its first flight on March 21, 2019.

Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 DEFIANT First Flight
The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 DEFIANT helicopter achieved first flight March 21, 2019. With its two coaxial main rotors and a rear mounted pusher propulsor, DEFIANT is unlike production rotorcraft available today. (Photo: Sikorsky-Boeing)

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