Bell V-280 Valor- Twice the Speed-Twice the Range

By Willie Bodenstein

Twice the Speed-Twice the Range of Current Helicopters

Photos © Bell Helicopters

Jointly developed by Bell and Lockheed Martin for the United States Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program the Bell V-280 Valor, unveiled in 2013 and with a projected first flight in 2017, is a third-generation tilt-rotor concept with twice the speed and twice the range of current helicopters.

On 5 June 2013, Bell announced that the V-280 Valor design had been selected by the US Army for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) phase and on 2 October 2013, Bell Helicopters was awarded a technology investment by the U.S. Army. Each of the four teams received $6.5 million from the Army for phase one of the program. Bell invested an undisclosed amount of its own money and on 21 October 2013 unveiled the first full-scale mock-up of the V-280 Valor.

On 11 August 2014, the Army informed the Bell-Lockheed team that they had chosen the V-280 Valor to continue with the JMR demonstration program. The Boeing-Sikorsky team offering the SB-1 Defiant was also chosen.

The V-280 is designed for a cruising speed of 320 mph (520 km/h). It will reportedly have a top speed 350 mph (560 km/h), a range of 2,400 miles (3,900 km), and an effective combat range of 580 to 920 miles (930 to 1,480 km). Maximum take-off weight is expected to be around 30,000 lb. The major difference between the Valor and the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is that Valor's 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 engine loss. The V-280 will have retractable landing gear and a triple-redundant fly by wire control system.

Focused on the infantry squad the Valor, roughly the size of the current medium-lift helicopter, handles much like a helicopter. In terms of low-speed agility it has unprecedented pitch, roll, and yaw response for those operations that require tactical agility. With more than twice the speed and range of current helicopter platforms, the Bell V-280 Valor provides access to get to the objective while providing superior agility at the objective. The design features integrated cabin armour, fly-by-wire component redundancy, state of the art countermeasures and performance.

The V-280 will have a crew of 4 and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops and can be equipped with a M777A2 Howitzer for self-protection. Dual cargo hooks will give it a lift capacity to carry a 10,000 lb (4,500 kg). When landed, the wing is in excess of seven feet from the ground, allowing soldiers to egress easily out of two 6-foot (1.8 m) wide side doors and door gunners to have wide fields of fire.

By January 2016, the V-280 demonstrator was 23% complete, with the mating of the wing and fuselage planned for April 2016, and on track for its first flight in September 2017.

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