The Bell V-280 has beaten the Sikorsky Defiant X to the US Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.
On Dec. 5, 2022 Bell Textron has been awarded the development contract for the US Army’s FLRAA program. The award is based on Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor that was developed and tested as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program that began in 2013. The V-280 progressed through design, manufacturing, and more than three years of rigorous flight testing that provided extensive data validating the technical and operational advantages of the aircraft for the long-range assault mission.
“We are honored that the U.S. Army has selected the Bell V-280 Valor as its next-generation assault aircraft,” said Scott C. Donnelly, Textron’s chairman and chief executive officer, in company news release. “We intend to honor that trust by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army’s mission requirements. We are excited to play an important role in the future of Army Aviation.”
“This is an exciting time for the U.S. Army, Bell, and Team Valor as we modernize the Army’s aviation capabilities for decades to come,” said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell. “Bell has a long history supporting Army Aviation and we are ready to equip Soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable, and affordable high-performance long-range assault weapon system in the world.”
This award builds on a decade of the V-280 Valor’s progress through design, manufacturing, and thorough testing to demonstrate that this aircraft will deliver on the FLRAA program requirements. Bell and its industry partners have systematically validated the V-280 aircraft and their modular open systems approach in collaboration with the Army.
“For the past several years the Bell team demonstrated the exceptional operational capabilities, digital thread synergies, and platform affordability enhancements the V-280 provides,” said Keith Flail, executive vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “Bell stands ready with our world-class manufacturing facilities to apply our nearly seven decades of tiltrotor expertise to deliver a modern FLRAA fleet to the Army.”
The initial contract refines the weapon system design, sustainment, digital enterprise, manufacturing, systems integration, flight-testing, and airworthiness qualification.
Combining the speed and range of the turboprop with advanced agility greater than a traditional helicopter, the Bell V-280 Valor offers better flight performance and lifecycle sustainability. According to Bell Textron, this weapon system was purpose built to revolutionize US Army overmatch in multi-domain operations.
Built with the maintainer in mind, the Valor was designed to revolutionize the reach and effectiveness of each mission while offering unmatched maneuverability, reduced downtime and ease of maintenance in the field.
With unparalleled mission equipment, V-280 pilots will operate in challenging visual environments and provide the ground forces with situational awareness enroute and on the objective.
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, released the following statement on US Army FLRAA decision: “We remain confident Defiant X is the transformational aircraft the U.S. Army requires to accomplish its complex missions today and well into the future. We will evaluate our next steps after reviewing feedback from the Army.”
Photo credit: Danazar Own Work via Wikipedia
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