As often happens with such things, Sikorsky has lodged a formal protest of the Army’s decision to go with competitor Bell’s V-280 Valor as its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). Sikorsky, which is owned by Lockheed Martin, teamed with Boeing to offer the DefiantX. It is protesting the $232 million contract that will cover the final design work and program development. It includes no aircraft. The protest automatically puts a stop to all work covered by the contract for at least the next 100 days. After the design is complete, the Army will pay a total of $8.2 billion to get the aircraft into production. Entry to service is expected in the mid-2030s.
The two aircraft are radically different. The winning Valor, which will take over from the venerable Sikorsky-built UH-60 Black Hawk, is a tiltrotor while the Defiant has counterrotating rotors with a pusher prop. Sikorsky said in a statement the Army got the contract award wrong. “The data and discussions lead us to believe the proposals were not consistently evaluated to deliver the best value in the interest of the Army, our soldiers, and American taxpayers,” the statement said.
Yes, a protest is the course of these things. I am not a fan of co-axial main rotor systems and hope that Bell prevails at the end of all this.
Why? Co-axial rotors may have vibration issues to deal with, but tiltrotors have their own issues as we have seen from their operational history.
As a helicopter and fixed wing pilot… I find the co-axial safer. If I’m going to get shot up, I want to make it to the ground safely.
Worked at Bell during the V280. The 280 was fully completed with all its flight testing before the DefiantX even had its first flight. Valor is much faster more versatile and proven battle technology from the V-22. DefiantX has NONE of this. Bell will be the better choice.
Sikorsky, which is owned by Lockheed Martin, is protesting a contract being awarded to an aircraft that is being made by Bell AND Lockheed Martin? Well, okay then.
That’s poor phrasing but you know what I mean.
More money in it for Lockheed if the DefiantX is chosen.
Follow the money. It is all about the money.
Both aircraft look like a maintenance nightmare, and if the Bell V-280 sounds as loud as the Osprey, we will never “sneak up” on our enemies…
Looks like the US military still hasn’t learned from the past how awarding a single do-all aircraft is a poor choice, like the F-35. It seems like the army should have really requested two different aircraft, one for long-distance high-speed flight, and one for shorter-distance fast-speed flight. Less chance for a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none situation, and less chance that some vital flaw would affect a fleet-wide grounding (as has happened with, for example, the F-35).
I bet you weren’t a fan of the F-111 either, Gary? 🙂
To inject a bit of humor here … I think it was picked just because -if you squint- the Bell looks a bit like the Colonial Marines Dropship from the film “Aliens”.
Next time we’re tempted to blame everything on “the gummint,” let’s remember that every time the gummint tries to buy something, someone else sues to stop them. Sad.
Precisely, Don. Elsewhere on Avweb, the article on the Navy awarding a full production contract to Sikorsky for the CH-53K, LM has the F-35 and the F-16 plus other contracts yet LM chooses to challenge this one. Preservation of the military industrial production base is important, too. Boeing protested the award of the KC-45 tamker three times to Northrop/Airbus and what did the ‘gummint’ ultimately get, the KC-46 which is still (sic) plagued with problems. Meanwhile, the MRTT tanker is working just fine for other Governments. Step aside, Sikorsky !!
All this is dumb. Why not just build a bunch of Blackhawks? Numbers mean more then the newest shiny thing. We could purchase 4 blackhawks for one of either one of these things. Proven aircraft. We didn’t win WWII because we had the best equipment for the most part. We won because we had the most.
Why not? Because it’s not the newest shiny thing, and you don’t get promoted by purchasing more of a boring-but-proven vehicle during peacetime.