Bell V-280 Valor
|Role||Vertical lift aircraft|
|National origin||United States of America|
|First flight||2017 (projected)|
The Bell V-280 Valor is a third-generation tilt-rotor concept being developed by Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin for the United States Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The aircraft was officially unveiled at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America's (AAAA) Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas, with a projected first flight in 2017.
On 5 June 2013, Bell announced that the V-280 Valor design had been selected by the US Army for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) phase. The JMR-TD phase is the technology demonstration precursor to Future Vertical Lift (FVL). The army classified the offering as a Category I proposal, meaning it is a well-conceived, scientifically or technically sound proposal pertinent to program goals and objectives with applicability to army mission needs, offered by a responsible contractor with the competent scientific and technical staff supporting resources required to achieve results. JMR-TD contracts were expected to be awarded in September 2013, with flights scheduled for 2017. On 9 September 2013, Bell announced it would team up with Lockheed Martin to develop the V-280. Lockheed will provide integrated avionics, sensors, and weapons to the aircraft. Additional partners were announced in the following months, including Moog Inc. for the flight control systems, GE Aviation for the engines, GKN for the tail structure, Spirit AeroSystems for the composite fuselage, Eaton Corporation as the distributor of hydraulics and power generation systems, and Astronics Advanced Electric Systems to design and manufacture power distribution systems.
On 2 October 2013, the U.S. Army awarded a technology investment agreement to Bell Helicopters for the V-280 Valor tiltrotor under the Joint Multi-Role program. Awards were also given to AVX Aircraft, Karem Aircraft, and a Sikorsky-Boeing team. JMR is not to develop a prototype for the next family of vehicles, but to develop technologies and interfaces. The TIAs give the four teams nine months to complete preliminary design of their rotorcraft, which the Army will then review and authorize the construction of two competing demonstrators to fly in 2017. While there is a potential for an early downselect, the four teams are focused on the 2017 flight demonstrations. Each of the four teams received $6.5 million from the Army for phase I of the program, although Bell is investing an undisclosed amount of its own money. On 21 October 2013, Bell unveiled the first full-scale mock-up of the V-280 Valor at Association of the United States Army 2013.
On 11 August 2014, the Army informed the Bell-Lockheed team that they had chosen the V-280 Valor to continue with the JMR demonstration program. The Boeing-Sikorsky team offering the SB-1 Defiant was also chosen. Official word of the downselect will be announced in late August once negotiations have been finalized.
The V-280 is reported to be designed for a cruising speed of 280 knots (320 mph; 520 km/h), a top speed of 300 knots (350 mph; 560 km/h), a range of 2,100 nautical miles (2,400 mi; 3,900 km), and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi (580 to 920 mi; 930 to 1,480 km). Expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 lb. In one major difference from the earlier V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, 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 retractable landing gear, a triple-redundant fly by wire control system, and a V-tail configuration. The wings are made of a single section of carbon fiber composite, reducing weight and production costs. The V-280 will have a crew of 4 and be capable of transporting up to 11 troops. Dual cargo hooks will give it a lift capacity to carry a 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) M777A2 Howitzer while flying at a speed of 150 knots (170 mph; 280 km/h). The fuselage is dimensionally similar to that of the UH-60 Black Hawk medium lift helicopter. When landed, the wing is in excess of seven feet from the ground, allowing soldiers to egress easily out of two 6-foot (1.8 m) wide side doors and door gunners to have wide fields of fire. Although the initial design is a utility configuration, Bell is also working on an attack configuration. GE Aviation will manufacture the engines for the V-280 - the prototype (air vehicle concept demonstrator, or AVCD) will use General Electric T64. The specific engine for the model performance specification (MPS) is unknown, but has funding from the Army's future affordable turbine engine (FATE) program. Technologies from FATE like advanced cooling systems could be directly inserted into the General Electric GE38 7,500shp-class (5,520 kW) engine, which will be used on the CH-53K. The GE38 has had 3,100 hours of testing and is to receive full military certification in 2014. The V-tail structure and ruddervators, made by GKN, will provide high levels of maneuverability and control to the airframe. It will be made of a combination of metals and composites. Features in the interior include seats that wirelessly charge troops’ radios, night-vision goggles, and other electronic gear and windows that display three-dimensional mission maps. Special emphasis has been placed on reducing the weight of the V-280 in comparison to the V-22, which in turn would reduce cost. To do this, composites are used extensively in the wing, fuselage, and tail. Wing skins and ribs are made of a honeycomb-stiffened "sandwich" construction with large-cell carbon cores for fewer, larger, and lighter parts. Skins and ribs are paste-bonded together to eliminate fasteners. With these measures, costs are reduced by over 30 percent compared to a scaled V-22 wing.
- "Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin team on V-280 Valor" AirFramer, September 9th, 2013. Accessed: September 9th, 2013.
- Drwiega, Andrew. "The Generation Game" Air International January 2014, page 106. Accessed: 17 June 2014.
- Bell V-280 Valor Selected for Army’s JMR-TD Program - Bell press release, 5 June 2013
- "Moog to design, manufacture flight control system for Bell V-280 Valor" AirFramer. Accessed: 11 October 2013.
- Bell switches engine supplier for next tiltrotor, chooses GE - Flightglobal.com, 16 October 2013
- GKN Aerospace to develop V-Tail for Bell V-280 Valor - GKN news release, 17 October 2013
- Spirit AeroSystems to build V-280 fuselage - Flightglobal.com, 21 October 2013
- Bell Helicopter, Astronics Announce Cooperative Agreement - Asdnews.com, 5 May 2014
- "Army awards JMR-TD program technology investment agreement with Bell Helicopter for next-generation tiltrotor demonstrator" AirFramer 8 October 2013. Accessed: 11 October 2013.
- Karem Unveils Variable-Speed Tiltrotor For U.S. Army JMR Demo - Aviationweek.com, 2 October 2013
- Army selects four companies for advanced rotorcraft concepts - Flightglobal.com, 3 October 2013
- Doubts Swirl around Army’s Next Generation Helicopter Fleet - Defensetech.org, 25 October 2013
- Bell unveils V-280 Valor mock-up - Flightglobal.com, 21 October 2013
- Army Picks Firms to Build Future Helicopter - DoDBuzz.com, 12 August 2014
- Huber, Mark. "Bell Applying 525 Technology to V-280" AIonline, 3 August 2014. Accessed: 4 August 2014. Archived on 4 August 2014.
- Bell V-280 Valor Spotlighted at SOFIC - Defensemedianetwork.com, 23 May 2013.
- Warwick, Graham. "Speed vs. cost" Aviation Week & Space Technology page 31, 25 August 2014. Accessed: 26 August 2014.
- Army May Pick Future Helo Designs This Summer - Defensetech.org, 5 May 2014
- Affordability Challenge In Pursuit Of Army JMR/FVL - Aviationweek.com, 25 August 2014