Bell's experimental V-280 Valor has made its first cruise flight. A video released by the company shows the tilt-rotor aircraft flying with its propellers tilted to forward for the first time on May 11 at the company's Amarillo, Texas facility, where it reached a top speed of 190 knots (218 mph, 352 km/h). The Valor is being developed as part of the US Department of Defense's Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative.
The first cruise flight of the Valor marks the most significant milestone in its development since its maiden flight on December 18, 2017. During that flight, it rose untethered from the first time to execute a hovering maneuver before returning to the ground.
The Valor is the result of a partnership with Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt, and Spirit AeroSystems. It's intended as a lighter, simpler, and cheaper variant of the V-22 Osprey. The Valor makes extensive use of composites in honeycomb sandwich configurations, that allow engineers to achieve a 30 percent improvement in weight savings despite having integrated cabin armor.
According to the website FlightGlobal, Glenn Isbell, vice-president of rapid prototyping and manufacturing innovation with Bell, said at AHS International's Annual Forum & Technology Display conference in Phoenix, Arizona that the next step is to reach speeds of 280 knots (322 mph, 518 km/h).
The video below shows the Bell V-280 Valor in flight as seen by a chase plane.
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