Bell and Lockheed join forces to replace Army’s Black Hawks


Bell Textron and Lockheed have set their sights on replacing the aging Army Black Hawk fleet with a new tilt-rotor aircraft, dubbed the V-280 Valor.

While similar in design to the V-22 Osprey used by the US Marines and Air Force, the designers insist that the aircraft is an entirely different departure and much more advanced in design.

“The V-22 has instructed on what tiltrotors can do, and that is great, but the V-280 is not a V-22,” Bell Vice President of Advanced Tiltrotor Systems Vince Tobin told an audience at the January Army aviation symposium.

“We are going to do it better than we did on the V-22. The V-22 was designed in the 1980s and we have taken it under our imperatives to fix what wasn’t perfect on the V-22 and get as close to perfect as we can on the V-280.”

According to Vertical, the joint-company venture has successfully attached the wing to the fuselage of the new aircraft, an event that was considered a milestone earlier this month.

“The V-280 wing, nacelles and fuselage are now assembled into the aircraft we’ve designed as the next generation tiltrotor,” said Lisa Atherton, executive vice president of military business development for Bell Helicopter. “This is a major milestone. The attention to detail from our employees, our suppliers and from all of team Valor, today and throughout this entire process, has been astounding. Their efforts have resulted in an aircraft that is coming together quickly and according to schedule. We are excited and counting down to the first flight in 2017.”

The Valor has an anticipated cruise speed of 280 knots with a 500-800 nm combat range, making it faster than the top speed of the CH-47 Chinook, which is currently the fastest helicopter in the US Army’s inventory.

While the aircraft is expected to fly for the first time in 2017, it will likely not see actual service until the 2030s.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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