Bell Textron Inc., a Textron company, has been awarded the development contract for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.
The award is based on Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft, which was developed and tested as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program that began in 2013. The V-280 progressed through design, manufacturing, and more than three years of rigorous fight testing that provided extensive data validating the technical and operational advantages of the aircraft for the long-range assault mission.
After a long and grueling period of flight testing over several years, the Army chose Bell’s V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor to replace the Army’s 2,000 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters and 1,200 AH-64 Apache assault helicopters.
Dubbed Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), the Valor aircraft will enter service in the mid-2030s and will eventually replace the Sikorsky-built helicopter that has served as the Army’s utility helicopter for more than four decades.
“This is an exciting time for the U.S. Army, Bell, and Team Valor as we modernize the Army’s aviation capabilities for decades to come,” said Mitch Snyder, president, and CEO of Bell. “Bell has a long history supporting Army Aviation, and we are ready to equip Soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable, and affordable high-performance long-range assault weapon system in the world.”
This award builds on a decade of the V-280 Valor’s progress through design, manufacturing, and thorough testing to demonstrate that this aircraft will deliver on the FLRAA program requirements. Bell and its industry partners have systematically validated the V-280 aircraft, and their modular open systems approach in collaboration with the Army.
The V-280 is designed for a cruising speed of 280 knots (320 mph; 520 km/h), a top speed of 300 knots (345 mph; 556 km/h), a range of 2,100 nautical miles (2,400 miles; 3,900 km), and an effective combat range of up to 800 nmi (up to 920 miles). The engines remain in place while the rotors and drive shafts tilt. A driveshaft runs through the straight wing, allowing both prop rotors to be driven by a single engine in the event of engine loss. The V-280 will have a crew of four and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Dual cargo hooks will give it a lift capacity to carry 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) while flying at a speed of 150 knots (170 mph; 280 km/h).
“For the past several years, the Bell team demonstrated the exceptional operational capabilities, digital thread synergies, and platform affordability enhancements the V-280 provides,” said Keith Flail, executive vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “Bell stands ready with our world-class manufacturing facilities to apply our nearly seven decades of tiltrotor expertise to deliver a modern FLRAA fleet to the Army.”