US Army Selects Bell V-280 Valor Helicopter to Replace UH-60 Black Hawk, Here the Reason!
The United States Army (US) chose the Bell V-280 Valor Tiltrotor aircraft to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Bell’s aircraft outperforms the Sikorsky and Boeing Defiant X coaxial helicopters. The Valor will enter service in the mid-2030s to replace Sikorsky’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
The legendary Black Hawk has served as the US Army’s workhorse utility helicopter for more than four decades. The Valor Dubbed the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) has gone through a very heavy and long period of flight testing over several years. The initial contract was $232 million and did not include the actual aircraft, only final digital design and development over five years.
According to Major General Robert Barrie, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, contracts with physical aircraft options totaled $1.2 billion. Then increase to $7 billion to start building the fleet. The US Army has not gone into detail about why it chose the Valor with Bell’s tiltrotor design, over Sikorsky’s pusher-compound-rotor design of X2 technology.
Barrie said the decision was based on the best value proposition. “The best value referred to in the truest sense is a comprehensive analysis of various factors. The factors are variable and performance, cost and schedule,” said Barrie quoted from The wᴀʀ Zone, Tuesday (6/12/2022).
The US Army’s selection of the V-280 Valor was a major victory for Bell. “This is an exciting time for the US Army, Bell, and Team Valor as it modernizes the Army’s aviation capabilities,” said Mitch Snyder, President and CEO of Bell.
Valor has recorded hundreds of flight hours during testing and reached a speed of 280 knots or around 518 km per hour. Conventional helicopters cannot approach that speed, even the Valor is believed to be able to reach speeds of 300 knots or 555 km per hour.
Valor’s first flight occurred on December 18, 2017 and logged more than 200 hours in the air. The Valor met a number of ambitious speed and agility targets set by the Army under its Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD) program.
Bell flew the Valor for three and a half years before grounding an operational prototype in 2021. The V-280 tiltrotor is an upgrade over the Bell-Boeing V-22 aircraft with tilting nacelles. In many ways, this victory gave Bell the opportunity to improve on its tiltrotor technology, with the specially designed V-280 Valor. Maintainability and affordability are critical design drivers for Valor.