Bell's V-280 Valor tiltrotor combat aircraft lived up to its name on Wednesday as it pegged the speedometer at a true airspeed of 280 knots (322 mph, 518 km/h), or twice that of conventional rotorcraft. The flight took place at the company's Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas after the completion of over 85 flight hours and 180 rotor-turn hours during a year of testing.
Developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt, and Spirit AeroSystems, the Valor is intended to be a lighter, simpler, and less expensive advance on the V-22 Osprey. Through the use of composites in honeycomb sandwich configurations with large-cell carbon cores in the fuselage, wing, and tail section, the Valor boasts a 30 percent weight savings over that aircraft despite its armor.
According to Bell, the Valor with its crew of two and payload of 14 troops, or the equivalent weight, can fly at twice the speed of current medium-lift helicopters. It also has double the range, allowing it to forego forward in-air refueling points to simplify design and logistics.
So far, the Valor has progressed in testing though captive rotor flights, hover tests, in-flight transition from vertical to cruise flight mode and back, conducted 45-degree banks at 200 knots (230 mph, 370 km/h), reached ascent speeds of 4,500 ft (1,372 m) per minute, sustained flight at 11,500 ft (3,505 m), conducted a ferry flight of 370 mi (595 km), and shown low and high-speed agility using fly-by-wire controls.
When it is fully operational, the Valor will have a combat range of up to 800 nm (920 mi, 1,481 km), and the capability to hover with out-of-ground effect (HOGE) at 6,000 ft (1,800 m) at temperatures of 95° F (35° C).
The Bell team is currently working on improving performance in low-speed agility maneuvers, angles of banking, and in autonomous flight.
The video below shows off the V-280 Valor's capabilities.
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