Bell’s V-280 Valor military tiltrotor prototype flew in cruise mode for the first time last week during a test flight at the company’s facility in Amarillo, Texas. The proprotors were moved to the zero-degree setting for forward flight. Airspeed was limited to 190 knots. A Bell spokesman said the company will gradually expand the V-280’s flight envelope to achieve its performance goal of a maximum speed of 280 knots.
The V-280 made its first flight last December 18. The program is part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative, a science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. It combines the resources of Bell, Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt, and Spirit AeroSystems.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the FVL program is designed to find a replacement for the Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and the Bell UH-1 operated by the U.S. Marine Corps. The program ultimately could result in deliveries of as many as 4,000 aircraft by 2030 under a contract potentially worth $100 billion and include significant foreign military sales.