Bell V-280 Valor Is a Game Changing Military Aircraft, Testing Continues

Bell V-280 Valor 7 photos
Photo: Bell
There is presently only one tiltrotor military aircraft in operation, and that’s the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The machine just passed an important milestone in March, reaching the 600,000 flight hours fleet-wide. But the aircraft’s days are numbered (and they should be, as it was introduced in 1989), given how a new generation of such machines is on the way.
It’s Bell and Lockheed Martin who are handling the development of the tiltrotors of the future, and their proposal in this segment is called V-280 Valor. First flown in 2017, it is expected to enter service by the end of the decade, after at the end of last year the prototype being tested successfully passed the 200 hours flight time.

The aircraft is supposed to offer “twice the speed and range as current vertical lift assets,” and that would mean a speed of around 345 mph (555 kph), and a range of 575 miles (925 km).

The Valor has been designed to be used in all roles humans can attribute to such a thing. Bell says it’s a perfect fit for air assault, special ops, air-to-ground attack, or medevac, with the latter of extreme importance given how it kind of doubles the reach of present-day air ambulances.

The Valor comes with a crew of four, and can transport an additional 12 soldiers. Alternatively, it can be used to transport cargo, either internally or externally, weighing as much as 12,000 lbs (5.4 metric tons). Capable of aerial refueling, it should be packed with both offensive and defensive weapons although, given the still early stages of development, these capabilities are so far not public.

"We have a great deal of confidence, backed up by data, that the V-280 will be an affordable, maintainable FLRAA weapon system that delivers the reach, lethality, agility, and survivability the Army needs to organically move, converge, and resupply maneuver forces over unprecedented distances,” said Keith Flail, executive vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell at the end of last year.

The Valor is part of the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program, one meant to also come up with the successor for the mighty Black Hawk.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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