The V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft being developed by Bell has achieved a milestone by reaching the optimal cruise speed of 280k true airspeed.
The flight test was carried out by Bell and Team Valor at the company’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas, US.
Bell V-280 programme manager Ryan Ehinger said: “Cruising at twice the speed of legacy helicopters, with double the range, really changes the way the US military can enable multi-domain operations. By eliminating forward refuelling points alone, leaders can focus on operational goals while minimising logistical burdens.”
The US Army selected the third-generation Bell V-280 Valor tilt-rotor design for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstrator (TD) programme, which is the precursor to the US Department of Defense’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme.
The aircraft was classified as a Category I proposal by the army evaluation team. It has completed a full year testing and logged in more than 85 hours of flight time to date.
Bell advanced vertical lift systems vice-president Keith Flail said: “It is a remarkable achievement to hit this airspeed for the V-280 Valor in just over a year of flight testing.
“Beyond the exemplary speed and agility of this aircraft, this significant milestone is yet another proof point that the V-280 is mature technology, and the future is now for FVL capability set 3.”
Bell and Team Valor will now focus on further expanding the aircraft’s performance focusing on low-speed agility manoeuvres, angles of bank, and autonomous flight.
The army’s FVL programme seeks to replace between 2,000 and 4,000 medium-class utility and attack helicopters.
Last month, Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky and Boeing revealed their SB>1 DEFIANT helicopter that was also selected for the JMR TD programme.