Bell Helicopter has completed final assembly of the V-280 Valor next-generation tiltrotor prototype and is preparing for ground runs and an anticipated first flight this fall. The V-280 is competing to win the U.S. military’s Future Vertical Lift Program to replace the Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and the Bell UH-1 operated by the Marines. The program ultimately could result in deliveries of as many as 4,000 aircraft by the year 2030 under a contract potentially worth $100 billion and include significant foreign military sales.
The V-280 airframe featuresextensive use of monolithic honeycomb and carbon-core composite components in the fuselage, wings, tail structures and ruddervators, and the widespread use of chemical bonding in place of traditional fasteners to affix substructures. Power comes from a pair of GE Aviation T64-GE-419 engines.
It differs from the Bell/Boeing V-22 tiltrotor in that on the V-22, the engines, gearboxes and prop-rotors all rotate as thrust direction is changed; on the V-280 only the gearboxes and prop-rotors rotate. The V-280 also will have 50 percent more flapping capability in its rotor system than that on the V-22, giving it greater agility in all axes.