U.S. Army Chooses Bell V-280 for Black Hawk Replacement

Bell is expected to deliver prototypes to the Army in 2025, with the aircraft entering the fleet within five years.

The Bell V-280 can go from a hover to a top speed of around 280 knots. [Credit: Bell]

U.S. Army has selected Bell Textron’s [NYSE: TXT] V-280 Valor tiltrotor as its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), the aircraft manufacturer announced. Bell is a subsidiary of Textron [stock ticker].

The decision for the aircraft slated to replace the service's aging fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters marks the largest rotorcraft buy for the Army in about four decades.

The initial $232 million contract will cover the design and manufacture of a virtual prototype of the tiltrotor aircraft, Army Brig. Gen. Robert Barrie told reporters recently.

Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant X, a coaxial rotorblade aircraft,  had also been a contender for the contract.

Under the contract announced Monday, which is valued up to $1.3 billion should the service exercise options, the Army will replace about 2,000 Black Hawks, providing battlefield troop transport, as well as about 1,200 Apache attack helicopters, Defense News reported. 

Bell is expected to deliver FLRAA prototypes to the Army in 2025, with the aircraft entering the fleet within five years—around the same time the Army is expected to field the separate Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft in development for scouting missions, Defense News said.

“Bell has a long history supporting Army Aviation and we are ready to equip Soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable, and affordable high-performance long-range assault weapon system in the world," said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell.

The V-280 Valor, an innovation which was nominated last year for the coveted National Aeronautic Association Collier Trophy, is a tiltrotor aircraft with vertical lift that has more than twice the speed and range of current weapons systems, according to Bell. The purpose-built aircraft is designed for the U.S. Army's multi-domain operations, including special ops, attack, medevac, and other utility missions. It can  go from a hover to a top speed of around 280 knots, while covering a range of up to 500 nm.

The aircraft combines the speed and range of a turboprop with an advanced agility that surpasses a traditional helicopter, all while offering improved flight performance and lifecycle sustainability, according to Bell.

"We are honored that the U.S. Army has selected the Bell V-280 Valor as its next-generation assault aircraft," Scott Donnelly, Textron’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "We intend to honor that trust by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army’s mission requirements. We are excited to play an important role in the future of Army Aviation."

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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