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Bell Textron Inc. and Team VALOR have celebrated the three-year anniversary of the V-280 VALOR’s first flight. Since then, the V-280 team has executed a rigorous flight test programme flying 200 hours through over 150 individual test flights. This was designed to demonstrate Bell-defined key performance parameters to showcase advanced capability, reduce risk and inform requirements for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative on a clean sheet aircraft design. Bell and Team VALOR have systematically decreased risk for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) initiative using data-driven preparation, transparency, collaboration with the Army and a dynamic approach to deliver evidence of exceptional performance to inform a programme of record.

The V-280 Valor has surpassed Bell’s programme goals and expected milestones over the past three years as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) programme. The initial testing of this new aircraft focused on delivering performance data to prove out the speed, range, agility, and efficiency of the V-280’s design to enable the Army to move and concentrate forces at the extended distances required for global operations as part of the Joint Force. Testing has included multiple Army Experimental Test Pilots and “Soldier Touchpoint” events focused on the pilots, crew chiefs, mechanics, and infantry squads to gather end-user inputs to inform FLRAA requirements.

V-280 VALOR FLRAA Tests

As V-280 testing progressed, Bell demonstrated the V-280’s ability to execute mission-relevant manoeuvres such as fast-rope and sling load operations, autonomous flight, as well as a modular open systems approach that enabled rapid systems integration of a Pilotage Distributed Aperture System and Tactical Common Datalink from Team VALOR teammate Lockheed Martin.

Bell and Team VALOR continue to work on a refined V-280 VALOR design that builds on the data captured during the past three years of testing as part of a Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction contract awarded in March 2020.

Jack Richardson