Bell Textron celebrated the three-year anniversary of its V-280 Valor tiltrotor’s first flight last week, noting that the aircraft has now flown for 200 hours and completed more than 150 individual test flights. The company also announced the successful demonstrations of the aircraft’s newly installed Tactical Common Datalink (TCDL) and ability to carry external cargo. The V-280 was selected in March 2020 to compete in the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program alongside the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant.
“Bell’s test flight program is a testament to how our workforce approaches program execution, and we are proud of the outstanding efforts put into this revolutionary aircraft in support of our nation’s military,” said Keith Flail, Bell executive vice president of advanced vertical lift systems. “We have a great deal of confidence, backed up by data, that the V-280 will be an affordable, maintainable FLRAA weapon system that delivers the reach, lethality, agility, and survivability the Army needs to organically move, converge, and resupply maneuver forces over unprecedented distances.”
The Bell V-280 demonstrator has flown at speeds of over 300 knots and is expected to have a combat range of 500-800 NM and useful load of greater than 12,000 pounds. The aircraft flew autonomously for the first time in December 2019. The FLRAA program is geared toward replacing the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.