Bell Helicopter
The Bell Helicopter V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft.

Bell Wins US Army Nod for Future Assault Aircraft

Dec. 6, 2022
A tiltrotor aircraft design is the final choice in the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft competition, to replace the venerable UH-60.

Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter subsidiary won the high-profile U.S. Army selection as the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, a competition to replace the UH-60 (Black Hawk) in that role. The Army has used the UH-60 as an assault helicopter for nearly 50 years, and that series is also adapted to other military purposes.

The Army has stated that the FLRAA will retain traditional helicopter agility and maneuverability and deliver more combat power “on the objective.” A team led by Boeing and Lockheed’s Sikorsky unit also made a proposal for a new assault helicopter, proposing a “coaxial helicopter,” with two rotors that spin in opposite directions to provide more stability than a typical helicopter.

Bell earned $232-million award for its V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft, which was developed beginning in 2013 as part of the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program. The design was submitted to more than three years of flight testing that provided additional data to validate technical and operational capabilities for long-range assault missions.

“The V-280’s unmatched combination of proven tiltrotor technology coupled with innovative digital engineering and an open architecture offers the Army outstanding operational versatility for its vertical lift fleet,” according to a Bell announcement.

The selection by the Army may be the start of a long-range contract for Bell estimated at up to $7.1 billion, for further development and initial production of aircraft for deployment. It could be worth many times more than that, depending on the Army’s long-term decisions for the program.

The final design was followed by manufacturing and over three years of flight testing that provided additional data to validate technical and operational capabilities for the long-range assault missions.

"We are honored that the U.S. Army has selected the Bell V-280 Valor as its next-generation assault aircraft," stated Textron chairman Scott C. Donnelly. "We intend to honor that trust by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army’s mission requirements.

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