Bell is retiring its V-280 tiltrotor demonstration aircraft, which has flown 214 hours over three years, to focus on “the critical next phase” of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) competition. The company will now concentrate on an “optimized design for a fleet of next-generation tiltrotors” in anticipation of the Army’s release of a formal request for proposals for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program in the third quarter.
During its flight campaign, the V-280 achieved a maximum forward speed of 305 knots and demonstrated a combat range of 500 to 800 nm, self-deployment range of 1,734 nm, low-speed agility, and rapid mission systems integration. It was flown by both Bell test pilots and U.S. Army experimental test pilots. Late last year, Bell successfully flew the V-280 with a new tactical common data link (TCDL) and completed external sling load sorties. With onboard sensors and TCDL, the V-280 could provide targeting information to enhance the lethality of precision long-range weapons. The V-280 also transmitted data collected by the Lockheed Martin Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor (PDAS) System.
Along with the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant compound helicopter, the V-280 is a semifinalist in the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition to replace UH-60 Black Hawks. It's anticipated that final down select will occur in 2022, with initial production aircraft becoming operational by 2030.