Military

Bell leverages V-22 experience for new V-247 Vigilant unmanned tilt-rotor

The V-247 can be armed with a variety of munitions
The V-247 can be armed with a variety of munitions
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The V-247 can be armed with a variety of munitions
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The V-247 can be armed with a variety of munitions
The V-247 is designed for carrier operaions
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The V-247 is designed for carrier operaions
Rendering of the V-247 operating with a Bell Osprey
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Rendering of the V-247 operating with a Bell Osprey
The V-247 is an unmanned multi-mission aircraft
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The V-247 is an unmanned multi-mission aircraft
VTOL capability allows the V-247 to operate from helicopter carriers
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VTOL capability allows the V-247 to operate from helicopter carriers

At the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Bell helicopter has unveiled its new V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor drone for the US Marine Corps. Like the company's V-22 Osprey, the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) can lift off and hover like a helicopter, yet has the range and speed of a fixed-wing aircraft. According to Bell, the Vigilant can carry out combat reconnaissance missions from land bases without runways or from small ships with flight decks.

Bell says that the V-247 is intended to fit the capabilities required by the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan and, if approved, could be in production by 2023. It has enough endurance for a pair of the aircraft to keep a target under surveillance for 24 hours a day, yet has a small logistical footprint. In addition, it has air-to-air refueling capability, a redundant flight control system, and an Electro Optical System and Targeting System.

Based on Bell's earlier work on the V-22 and the V-280 Valor, it combines the strengths of a helicopter and an fixed-wing airplane, and can fold its rotors so fits into the hangar of a US DDG guided missile destroyer. Its open architecture, modular design provides a high degree of flexibility with bays that allow it to carry extra fuel, high-definition sensors, sonar buoys, lidar, radar, and a combination of MK-50 torpedoes, or Hellfire and JAGM missiles.

The V-247 is designed for carrier operaions
The V-247 is designed for carrier operaions

According to Bell, the single-motor V-247 has retractable landing gear and can carry payloads of up to 2,000 to 9,000 lb (907 to 4,100 kg), depending on how they're stowed. It has a cruising speed of 240 kts (276 mph, 444 km/h), a maximum altitude of 25,000 ft (7,620 m), and a range of up to 1,400 nm (1,600 mi, 2,600 km) with an endurance of up to 17 hours. This allows it to not only provide 24-hour surveillance when used in pairs, but also to act as escorts for the V-22 or V-280.

One key point about the V-22 is its mission flexibility. Bell says that it can carry out any Group 5 UAS mission, which puts it on the same footing as the MQ-9 Reaper, RQ-4 Global Hawk, and MQ-4C Triton. It can conduct electronic warfare; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR); escort flights; Command, Control, Communications, and Computers (C4); and persistent fire missions. In addition, it as autonomous flight capability, can carry out day or night picket duties, and provide early warning of incoming threats.

"Leveraging lessons learned from our extensive history and experience with tiltrotors, we have found the best available solution to fulfill the Marine Corps need for a Group 5 UAS," says Vince Tobin, vice president, advanced tiltrotor systems at Bell Helicopter. "The Bell V-247 Vigilant will give military customers the capabilities needed to reduce the complexity of deployment, increase speed of employment, reduce mission times and increase response time – all critical elements to completing missions to save lives and protect our freedom."

Source: Bell Helicopter

6 comments
RJB
How refreshing - The press releases usually list possible roles for these deadly weapon systems and include "disaster relief" - Not this one - It's just to kill people.
ezeflyer
I agree with RJB. Why are deadly weapon systems more profitable than things that don't kill, that instead help people and our environment.
AngryPenguin
@RJB - Now that you mention it, the high definition sensors mentioned in the article would be very useful for the 'search' part of Search & Rescue...
ljaques
Hey, RJB. I'll bet you think guns are used only to kill people, too, don't you? You don't see them being used defensively, like these aircraft are capable, either, do you? I didn't think so. Too bad. These are tools, and tools can be used in many different manners. Open your mind to it. Because these can be used unmanned, they can save pilot lives by monitoring hostile borders during a crisis. Plus, if they can drop weapons, they can drop cannisters of food and disaster relief supplies by parachute. Fitted with a hoist and bottom-facing camera, I don't see why they couldn't be used as helicopters for nearby search and rescue, either. Like I said, open your mind and let some fresh air (and maybe some ideas) in, dude.
Derek Howe
Pretty cool looking drone, it would be right at home with the marines. I prefer tax dollars going to something like this & V-280, VS another fancy pants USAF bomber. This is something that can be used today in middle east battles, not some unlikely war with the US & China or Russia. ezeflyer - Maybe they can wrap sunflower seeds around its bombs...so every time we destroy some Islam extremist thug, we will also be planting some beautiful sunflowers. win/win
JimSimons
I didn't see any mention on pricing... This drone seems clearly defined and is specified well for its roles. However, the history of the V-22's massive budget overruns has me very concerned. The V-22 is a case study for project managers and engineering managers on how to fleece the public for Billions of needless costs. If this were a private venture, everyone would've been fired multiple times. If the V-247 can leverage the technology already paid for... and NOT re-bill us all for it... then there is hope. I would suggest that the Navy/USMC simply put a price on the delivered product and NOT pay for development. If Boeing believes in itself and its capabilities, they should be more than happy to take on the development "risk" (ie. money) and build to a contract that pays per delivered unit. There are a ton of civilian uses for this aircraft. Its payload is the perfect size for many applications (make a 1 ton version to start & a 4 ton after the 1 ton is deployed). Imagine a half dozen of these flying a loop over a forest fire, delivering 800-1000 gallons of retardant on each drop... using the sensors to determine the winds and fire locations to ensure that each drop is on target. Functioning as a networked "swarm", all of the information from the collective sensors would enable targeting accuracy to get better with each drop.
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