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Bell’s V-280 Valor has notched a notable landmark after reaching its namesake cruising speed of 280 knots true airspeed. The tiltrotor, developed by Bell for the U.S. Army-led Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program — a precursor to the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program — reached the speed on Jan. 23, following a year of flight testing that has seen it notch more than 85 hours of flight time.
“It is a remarkable achievement to hit this airspeed for the V-280 Valor in just over a year of flight testing,” said Keith Flail, vice president of advanced vertical lift systems at Bell. “Beyond the exemplary speed and agility of this aircraft, this significant milestone is yet another proof point that the V-280 is mature technology, and the future is now for FVL capability set 3.”
The V-280 program has now recorded 180 rotor turn hours, and the aircraft has completed in-flight transitions between cruise mode and vertical takeoff and landing. Flight tests have also seen the Valor perform 45-degree banked turns at 200 knots indicated airspeed; record a 4,500 feet per minute rate of climb with sustained flight at 11,500 feet altitude; and complete a single flight ferry of over 370 miles.
The manufacturer claims the fly-by-wire aircraft has already demonstrated low- and high-speed agility and performance “well beyond” legacy rotorcraft.
The JMR-TD program is 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.
“Cruising at twice the speed of legacy helicopters, with double the range, really changes the way the U.S. military can enable multi-domain operations,” said Ryan Ehinger, V-280 program manager at Bell. “By eliminating forward refueling points alone, leaders can focus on operational goals while minimizing logistical burdens.”
As the program moves into 2019, Bell said V-280 flight testing will continue to prove out its key performance parameters and reduce FVL risk in the JMR-TD program, with the manufacturer continuing to “methodically expand” the V-280’s flight envelope. The next stages will focus on further low-speed agility maneuvers, angles of bank and autonomous flight.