Bell Helicopter is unveiling a new third-generation tiltrotor aircraft concept called the V-280 Valor, which it is pitching for the US Army's Joint Multi-Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme.

The army hopes to field a new medium-lift rotorcraft to replace its fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks in the 2030s developed under its FVL effort. But the service does not simply want a new helicopter; it hopes to induct "leap-ahead" technologies that would enable its future rotorcraft to cruise at speeds approaching 230kt (426km/h). To this end, the army has launched a JMR technology demonstration effort and will select one or more companies to build a flying prototype that would be expected to take to the air in 2017.

 Bell Valor attack

Bell Helicopter

While Bell's V-22 Osprey partner Boeing is teaming with rival Sikorsky to pitch a high-speed compound helicopter design based on that company's X-2 prototype, Bell has opted to pursue what it calls a third generation tiltrotor.

 Bell Valor airplane mode - Bell Helicopter

Bell Helicopter

Called the V-280, the Bell concept features a V-tail, a large cell carbon core wing and a composite fuselage. Unlike the older V-22 design, the engines do not move, only the rotor-system tilts, Bell says. Coupled with a fly-by-wire system, the aircraft should have excellent high and low-speed handling qualities, the company says.

The V-280 will be able to cruise efficiently at 280kt carrying 11 passengers comfortably with a mission radius of over 250nm (463km).

Source: Flight International