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The Bell V-280 Valor has completed another milestone in its flight testing by flying in “cruise mode.” This is when the rotors pivot, in flight, from vertical lift mode to fully forward facing. According to Bell, the aircraft then reached 190 knots of true airspeed.
The flight was completed on May 11 at Bell’s assembly facility in Amarillo, Texas. While the airspeed for the test was limited to 190 knots, the team will now gradually expand the Valor’s flight envelope to achieve the type’s goal of 280 knots at cruise.
The V-280 is Bell’s submission for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program, a precursor to the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to identify a replacement for the service’s existing medium-lift helicopter fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and Boeing AH-64 Apaches.
“This first cruise mode flight is another exciting step in our efforts to deliver revolutionary capability for warfighters at a sustainable cost and years ahead of current schedule projections,” said Keith Flail, vice president of Advanced Tiltrotor Systems at Bell.
“We will continue to expand the envelope in terms of speed, range, agility, and our other key performance parameters, and continue to bring the proof. Our warfighters deserve and need the best our nation can provide and this revolutionary, affordable, sustainable capability is ready to go.”
Powered by two 5,000-horsepower General Electric T64-GE-419 engines, the V-280 is designed to carry two pilots, two crew chiefs, and 11 to 14 passengers at a combat range of 500 to 800 nautical miles.
The aircraft completed its first flight on Dec. 18, 2017, and has now recorded more than 27 hours of flight time, and over 90 hours of rotor turn time.