The new Bell tiltrotor, called the V-280 Valor, is part of the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program aimed at establishing requirements and paving the way toward a new Future Vertical Lift aircraft designed to meet a wide range of new requirements.

V-280 Valor review on Dung Tran Military channel

Introduce

In response to Russia and China, the Pentagon is sprinting to own long-range attack helicopters, to replace the old UH-60 Black Hawks and AH-64 Apache aircraft in service, as well as fill up the gap left by the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior.

According to Defense-News, Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor demonstrator, participating in the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role technology demonstration, has wrapped up low-speed agility maneuver testing, completing the final key performance parameters left to prove out with the system. The low-speed agility tests demonstrated the Valor has raw control power in pitch, roll and yaw maneuvers that meet the Army’s highest performance standard for handling qualities.

The Valor was developed by Bell and Lockheed Martin, the aircraft made its first flight on December 18, 2017 in Amarillo, Texas. On June 18, 2018, Bell’s V-280 Valor prototype took off for its first public demonstration, six months after its first flight. It’s another, early glimpse at the tiltrotor aircraft that could one day replace a significant portion of the U.S. military’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, among other aircraft.

The concept behind the Army’s joint Future Vertical Lift program is to engineer a forward-looking, future aircraft able to reach airplane speeds and yet retain and ability to hover and maneuver like a helicopter. The aircraft will have an ability to come to a hover in challenging conditions and then, while at a hover, operate at low speeds with maneuvering capability to roll and yaw.

V-280 Valor
V-280 Valor

In addition, the future aircraft is intended to be able to use fuel-efficient engine technology to allow an aircraft to travel at least 800 kilometers on a single tank of fuel. Such an ability will enable the aircraft to operate more easily one a single mission without needing Forward Arming and Refueling Points.

Design

The design of V-280 similar the V-22 Osprey, takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like an airplane . The sleek, even menacing-looking aircraft integrates a clean sheet design with a V-tail configuration and fuselage of composite construction. The wings are made of a large cell carbon core.

Bell has a lot of experience working with larger and heavier V-22. Fixed engine nacelles on the V-280 is unique, this is a departure from the V-22 which has tilting nacelles where the engines and rotors pivot together when switching between cruise and hover mode.

The V280’s design eliminates the drawback of the V-22 design. The Valor’s rotors adjust into vertical and forward positions for vertical and cruise flight, but the wingtip engine nacelles don’t move, keeping the hot engine exhaust directed high up and rearwards. This eliminates the intensely hot exhaust jets from the nacelles direct downward toward the ground as designed on V-22, it can be dangerous for the troops when moving near the V-22, and it can spark an occasional grass fire. This is the key to help the V-280 be designed with two spacious 1.83m side doors for convenient entry and exit of armed forces.

V-280 Valor
V-280 Valor

Performance

The Valor is equipped with 2 General Electric T64 turboshaft engines. The engines are placed at the tip of the helicopter wings. The helicopter can operate on a single engine in the event of loss or damage of the other engine. The V-280 is reported to be designed for a cruising speed of 280 knots, a top speed of 300 knots, a range of 2,100 nautical miles, and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nautical miles. Expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 pounds.

The V-280 will have a crew of four and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. The aircraft is fitted with a conventional retractable landing gear for better control during take-off and landing. Dual cargo hooks will give it a lift capacity to carry a 10,000lb M777A2 Howitzer while flying at a speed of 150 knots.

The V-280 helicopter is equipped with triple redundant fly-by-wire flight control system for precision aircraft handling and improved safety. The system helps to reduce the workload of pilots and weight of the aircraft while minimising the maintenance costs as compared to traditional flight control systems.

The aircraft will offer greater fuel-efficiency, resulting in smaller logistical footprint compared to other aircraft. The smaller logistical footprint helps to minimise the logistics support needed to move and maintain a warfighting force.

V-280 Valor
V-280 Valor

Armament

Bell said that they had planned an armed attack version will have a gun, 2.75in folding-fin rockets and some type of point-to-point missile, hellfire or some later generation missile that would guide off of a laser or infrared.

The new attack variant is expected to use a modernized or next-generation of existing Apache sensors and targeting systems called the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight. The V-280 is said will be integrated a 360-degree sensors suite quite similar to the one used on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter called a Distributed Aperture Systems.

In any case, it seems that the V-280 is a promising venture for Bell and it will likely go far in the modern battlefield in the future. Bell is also working on building the V-247, an unmanned tiltrotor for the Marine Corps, and both the V-280 autonomy efforts and the V-247 development will inform each other.

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