Design Continues to Evolve as Test Results Demonstrate Capabilities
Bell Textron and Team Valor are celebrating the third anniversary of the V-280 VALOR’s first flight, the Fort Worth-based company announced on 18 December.
Since then, the flight test programme has consisted of over 150 separate sorties, amassing some 200 flight hours and demonstrating Bell-defined key performance requirements to showcase advanced capability, reduce risk, and inform requirements for the Army’s future vertical lift (FVL) initiative on a ‘clean-sheet’ aircraft design. Bell and Team Valor have systematically decreased risk for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) initiative, using data-driven preparation, transparency, and collaboration with the Army, as well as a dynamic approach to deliver evidence of superior performance.
“We have a great deal of confidence, backed up by data, that the V-280 will be an affordable, maintainable FLRAA weapon system that delivers the reach, lethality, agility, and survivability the Army needs to organically move, converge, and resupply maneuver forces over unprecedented distances,” commented Keith Flail, EVP Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell.
The aircraft has surpassed Bell’s programme goals and anticipated milestones over the past three years as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) programme. Initial testing focused on delivering performance data to validate the speed, range, agility, and efficiency of the design to enable the Army to move and concentrate forces at the extended distances required for global operations as part of the Joint Force. Testing has involved a number of Army experimental test pilots and several ‘soldier touchpoint’ events, focused on pilots, crew chiefs, mechanics, and infantry squads, to gather end-user inputs to inform FLRAA requirements.
As V-280 testing progressed, Bell demonstrated the V-280’s ability to execute mission-relevant manoeuvres, such as fast-rope and sling-load operations, autonomous flight, as well as a modular open systems approach that enables rapid systems integration of a Pilotage Distributed Aperture System (PDAS) and Tactical Common Datalink (TCDL) produced by Lockheed Martin, a member of Team Valor.
“From our first flight in 2017 through today, we have worked closely with our Army teammates to demonstrate a low-risk, affordable, and sustainable FLRAA aircraft that will redefine the battlefield for decades to come,” explained Ryan Ehinger, Bell’s VP and Program Director for the V-280 VALOR. “The technology is ready. The V-280 aircraft has proven the speed, range, and agility in flight-test to transform the Army. The coupling of this air vehicle technology with the work we have been doing in open mission systems will be game-changing and enable delivery of a weapon system that can serve the Army for decades.”
Team Valor continues to work on a refined V-280 VALOR design that builds on data captured during the past three years of testing as part of a competitive demonstration and risk reduction (CD&RR) contract awarded in March this year.