Bell Helicopter, a subsidiary of Textron Inc., announced that its V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft has achieved first flight, on Dec. 18.
This milestone represents exceptional progress on the V-280 development program and brings Bell Helicopter one step closer to creating the next generation of vertical lift aircraft for the U.S. military. The V-280 Valor is a next-generation tiltrotor that is designed to provide unmatched agility, speed, range and payload capabilities at an affordable cost.
“This is an exciting time for Bell Helicopter, and I could not be more proud of the progress we have made with first flight of the Bell V-280,” says Mitch Snyder, President & CEO for Bell Helicopter. “First flight demonstrates our commitment to supporting Department of Defense leadership’s modernization priorities and acquisition reform initiatives. The Valor is designed to revolutionize vertical lift for the U.S. Army and represents a transformational aircraft for all the challenging missions our armed forces are asked to undertake.”
“We are thrilled to share in this success of the V-280 first flight with Team Valor,” added Snyder. “The V-280 intends to completely transform what is possible for the military when it comes to battle planning and forward operations.”
JUST IN: Bell V-280 Valor first flight footage.
This milestone represents exceptional progress on the V-280 development program and brings Bell Helicopter one step closer to creating the next generation of vertical lift aircraft for the U.S. military. pic.twitter.com/8isQNPm3Uf
— Bell Helicopter (@BellHelicopter) December 18, 2017
About V-280 Valor:
The V-280 Valor is a third-generation tilt-rotor aircraft being developed by Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin for the United States Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.
The Bell V-280 Valor program is part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative. The JMR-TD program is the science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The V-280 program brings together the engineering resources and industrial capabilities of Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt and Spirit AeroSystems—collectively referred to as Team Valor.
The aircraft was officially unveiled at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America’s (AAAA) Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas, with a projected first flight in 2017.
In one major difference from the earlier V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the engines 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.
GE Aviation will manufacture the engines for the V-280, with the prototype (air vehicle concept demonstrator, or AVCD) using the General Electric T64.
The fuselage is visually similar to that of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk medium lift helicopter.
The V-280 is reportedly capable of a cruising speed of 280 knots (320 mph; 520 km/h) (hence the name V-280), a top speed of 300 knots (350 mph; 560 km/h), a range of 2,100 nautical miles (2,400 mi; 3,900 km), and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi (580 to 920 mi; 930 to 1,480 km).
The V-280 will have retractable landing gear, a triple-redundant fly by wire control system, and a V-tail configuration. The wings are made of a single section of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer composite, reducing weight and production costs.
Expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 lb. The V-280 will have a crew of 4 and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Dual cargo hooks will give it a lift capacity to carry a 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) M777A2 Howitzer while flying at a speed of 150 knots (170 mph; 280 km/h).
In June 2015, Bell Helicopter’s subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems began assembly of the composite fuselage for the first prototype, which was delivered in September 2015.
The demonstrator aircraft began ground vibration testing in Amarillo during February 2017, with the aircraft reaching 95 percent complete.