The US Army has selected Bell Helicopter's third-generation tiltrotor design, Bell V-280 Valor for its joint multi-role technology demonstrator (JMR-TD) Phase I programme.
Selected as a Category I proposal against proposals from several manufacturers, Bell V-280 Valor is designed to offer the best value in procurement, operations and support, as well as force structure, providing enhanced maintainability and component reliability to help lower operational and support costs.
Bell Helicopter future vertical lift programme director Keith Flail said the helicopter would provide the army's most sought-after capability with a cruise speed of 280k.
"We have also focused technology advancements on providing outstanding low-speed agility, high-hot hover capability, multiple-g high-speed maneuverability, superior fuel efficiency and radically improved range capabilities, while improving reliability and reducing costs," Flail said.
Providing the army with greater maturity and technical readiness, and ability to conduct a multitude of missions with enhanced speed and agility, the helicopter's fewer parts also reduces complexity compared with previous generation tiltrotors.
Other competitors selected for the programme include Sikorsky-Boeing team, which is offering a coaxial-rotor compound helicopter design based on Sikorsky's X2 Technology rotorcraft, while EADS North America has pulled out in an effort to focus resources on its offering for the army's armed aerial scout (AAS) requirement, FlightGlobal reports.
JMR-TD contracts are expected to be awarded by September 2013, with first flight scheduled for 2017.
A subset of the US Department of Defense's (DoD) joint future vertical lift effort, JMR programme aims at development of a family of helicopters with enhanced avionics, electronics, range, speed, propulsion, survivability, operating density altitudes and payload capacities.
The helicopters are expected to replace the army's existing UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache, and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, as well as similar aircraft used by the navy, air force and marine corps, from 2030.
Image: A graphical illustration of a potential future joint multi-role next-generation helicopter. Photo: courtesy of AMRDEC graphic.