Following a request from the US Marine Corps, Bell Helicopteris studying an armed rotorcraft concept based on the BA609 civil tiltrotor now under development under a joint venture with AgustaWestland. The aircraft would have the speed needed to allow it to act as an armed escort for the service's Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor transports.

"We have been asked to conceptualise an attack-type aircraft using the 609 wing and rotors, but with a new fuselage and an armament system," says Mike Redenbaugh, Bell chief executive. Testing of the V-22 is now far enough advanced, he says, "to let the guys' minds run" on pursuing other tiltrotor designs. In addition to "feeding ideas" to the Marine Corps on the armed-escort derivative of the BA609, Bell is continuing work on its Quad Tiltrotor as a potential vertical-lift heavy transport to support the US Navy's sea-basing concept, which would avoid the need for land bases by inserting and sustaining forces from the sea.

Bell, meanwhile, plans to offer a derivative of its commercial Model 407 light turbine single to meet the US Army's proposed armed reconnaissance helicopter requirement, as well as a civil-certificated version of the UH-1H, the Model 210, to meet the companion light utility helicopter requirement. "The 407 is a good platform to begin from," says Redenbaugh, although he does not rule out offering other helicopters as the requirements take shape.

Nacelle blowers on V-22s will be changed every 100h until they are redesigned following a 28 June incident during sea trials in which the drive-system cooling fan disintegrated while a V-22 was hovering over the ship's flight deck.

Source: Flight International