Farnborough Air Show

Bell's V-280 Valor Awaits U.S. Army FLRAA Decision

 - July 20, 2022, 7:11 AM
Bell is exhibiting a full-scale mock-up of the V-280 at the Farnborough air show. (Photo: David Mackintosh)

Textron division Bell is preparing for a decision on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), for which it is bidding the V-280 Valor tiltrotor. The V-280 competes with the Lockheed Martin (Sikorsky) and Boeing Defiant X to begin the replacement of the Army’s fleet of UH-60 Black Hawks from 2035. The U.S. Army has just announced that it will deliver the selection decision in October.

Drawing on experience gained from the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, the Valor takes the tiltrotor concept another step forward. The V-280’s engines remain fixed, with just the drive shafts and rotor blades tilting, as opposed to the Osprey’s swiveling engine nacelles. The simpler arrangement saves structural weight and has beneficial effects on ground heating and reliability. The V-280 also leverages developments in digital design and digitized maintenance concepts.

First flying on Dec. 18, 2017, the V-280 air vehicle concept demonstrator has demonstrated a speed of 300 knots, as well as underslung load capability and low-speed agility. The demonstrator is powered by two GE Aviation T64 turboshafts, but the proposed production aircraft would feature the Rolls-Royce T406/AE 1107F, a more powerful derivative of the Osprey’s proven AE 1107C.

Operated by a crew of four and typically carrying 12 troops, the Valor can deliver infantry over a 450 nm distance in 1 hour 50 minutes, whereas the current Black Hawk would take more than five hours, including two stops at forward arming and refueling points. The V-280’s unrefueled combat range is more than 500 nm with a cruise speed greater than 280 knots.