The future of army aviation?

Bell has released this image of a full-scale mock-up of its V-280 Valor tiltrotor, which will be on display at the AUSA show in Washington DC next week. We can expect the company to say a bit more about its offering there, although it has already confirmed that GE Aviation is to supply the proposed transport’s engines.

V-280 Valor mock-upBell and its partner Lockheed Martin reckon something like the Valor could be in with a shout of succeeding the US Army’s versatile Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. They’ll be flying a demonstrator in 2017 as part of the service’s Joint Multi-Role process, along with rivals AVX, Boeing/Sikorsky and Karem; an activity which is sure to not disappoint on the cool scale.

My DC-based colleague Jon Hemmerdinger will be at AUSA, and you’ll be able to keep up with the top news over on our defence channel.

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10 Responses to The future of army aviation?

  1. S O 20 October, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    Bell doesn’t seem to learn.

    The way to go are robust, easily maintained helicopters with a good cost:benefit ratio.
    The U.S.Army is bound to require gold-plating, though – and I think the S-97′s approach beats Bell’s approach hands down in the gold plating segment.

  2. C-Low 20 October, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    If this pans out it will be a leap forward for the army. Range, speed, and altitude it changes allot. I think it is a tilt rotors tech to lose. The Army is thinking PACOM and those expanses need range and speed.

    The S-97 is old tech that should have been pushed long ago, and is more of a plan B in my opinion. It is just not allot of performance gain for the added complexity and fuel burn.

    The Army wants the advantages the V-22 brings but in a smaller more cost effective package and then a larger more expensive package. The V-22 is a middle weight contender to big for the Army’s need of moving smaller groups of infantry and to small to move equipment.

    • S O 20 October, 2013 at 5:12 am #

      “Old tech”? Are you unaware of the S-97′s rotor design (first tested decades after the first tilt rotor) or are you being paid for this?

      Besides, a S-97esque aircraft can actually take off and land vertically almost everywhere, while V-22esque aircraft need much too large clear areas for this.
      Also, loss of pusher prop functionality in an S-97 merely reduces its speed, while comparable damage in an V-22 would be a disaster.

      Finally, V-22esque aircraft are simply no good at moving much equipment for two fundamental reasons:
      (1) loading and unloading is no quicker than in a rear ramp helicopter; this fixed time is unaffected by cruise speed and badly reduces the advantages of the V-22 in sorties/day for typical helicopter mission profiles.
      (2) external loads can only be carried at speeds not much better than a helicopter’s.

  3. Dom 20 October, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    If anyone seems like a shill it is SO.

    Nonetheless, avoidance of tilting the entire engine streamlines maintenance and operations.

    X2/s-97 simply can’t compete in range and speed with what is essentially a turboprop.

    Question is why no retracts on the Bell? Seems the speed capabilities necessitate such.

  4. Dom 20 October, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Looked at pic closer and it does seem the gear retracts.

  5. C-Low 20 October, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_AH-56_Cheyenne

    This is not new tech it is old tech with some modern improvements. It was a game changer in 76′ today it is the second best option today. The coaxle blades is nothing new either actually its one of the foundation helo plans. It cannot fly over the fire, cannot expand the range, all it really brings is a speed advantage. If I was a sales guy for the S-97 instead of trying to sell the Army a new helo I would make this a kit I could put into the blackhawks next refurb. After all that is the all the rage with our politicks that we can afford to skip a generation and keep flying 80′s tech because the Russian/Chinese will never match 30yr old US tech. A thought process that will end like all the rest were one group underestimated their enemy.

    The loading and unloading being no better than a tail ramp I think is in reference to the V-22 not the V-280. Two huge advantages of not turning the engines just the prop is side doors and more importantly the ability to mount door gunners.

    The range and speed are huge advantages worth the added complexity/cost. Go look at a map and think circles 300-400 vs 1100-1300 miles and keep in mind both max distances are covered in roughly equal times. It will change allot on how many bases we need and were. Then also don’t forget the Army has another half of this program which is a heavy that will be like nearing C-130 class. If they can full that off you are looking at an army that theoretically could self deploy in hours over huge distance with sizable numbers.

    I am not a shill for anyone but like I said in my average joe opinion I think this competition is tiltrotor tech to lose. The Army is looking to the PACOM on one hand and/or spread out light fighting and thinking again about mobility & airborne. Make some circles and look at a map when you compare only one will revolutionize the planning, and revolution today is 30+yrs norm.

    • S O 21 October, 2013 at 2:34 am #

      “circles 300-400 vs 1100-1300 miles and keep in mind both max distances are covered in roughly equal times”

      You are a liar. Tilt rotor has not three times the cruise speed of ABC rotor + pusher prop.

      Tilt rotor is no concept to succeed army aviation’s helicopters. The extra range and speed are superfluous to them.
      It’s challenging air force’s Hercules transports instead, and is simply too expensive and requires too much maintenance effort and fuel for its service.

  6. Craig Hoyle 21 October, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Let’s respect the fact that people are free to share their opinions on this forum – no need for name-calling, please.

  7. para 22 October, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    I understand, that this S-97 vs V-280 discussion is more about the tech in principle than the actual current proposals, but before we pull out range- and cruise speed-comparisons, perhaps we should actually wait, til either company comes up with an actual competitor in the respective class, or more specifically for Sikorsky to reveal some data on their medium JMR-design. So far we have S-97 as a proposal for a light assault helo and V-280 for a Blackhawk replacement.

    Furthermore the Army will arguably look at a few more variables than just range and speed. Frankly I would guess, cost will be a more decisive factor than either of those, so Sikorsky may well have a significant advantage there.

    • correct 26 October, 2013 at 3:02 am #

      “before we pull out range- and cruise speed-comparisons, perhaps we should actually wait, til either company comes up with an actual competitor in the respective class, or more specifically for Sikorsky to reveal some data on their medium JMR-design. So far we have S-97 as a proposal for a light assault helo and V-280 for a Blackhawk replacement.”

      And if the JSF taught us anything, the initial range and performance numbers may or may not work out to be the final operational characteristics.

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