Officials from Bell, a firm vying to produce the U.S. Army's next-generation troop-carrying aircraft, today successfully completed the second, public flight demonstration of the firm's tiltrotor V-280 Valor helicopter.
The 30-minute flight in Amarillo, Texas was "impressive," according to retired Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Schloesser, executive vice president for strategic pursuits at Bell, the firm formerly known as Bell Helicopter.
The V-280 Valor, a technology demonstrator in the Army's Future Vertical Lift program, conducted a series of "low level hovers and maneuvers," Schloesser said.
"Today's outstanding V-280 flight display is the result of a great partnership between Bell and the U.S. Army," Schloesser said in a statement to Military.com.
"It's a great day for the outstanding engineers and the dedicated workforce at Bell," he added. "Bell has been at the forefront of so many of our nation's outstanding flight innovations."
The V-280, built by a team from Textron Inc. and Bell, is one of two multi-role technology demonstrator platforms the Army selected in 2014 to prove out new capabilities for Future Vertical Lift, an Army-led, joint program to develop a family of next generation helicopters.
Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin Corp., and Boeing Co. built the SB>1 Defiant as the other technology demonstrator, but so far the Defiant has not conducted its first test flight.
Over the next several months, Bell will attempt to achieve performance goals for the Valor such as speed and extended range.
The aircraft can currently fly at 195 knots, but it will soon be able to reach a max speed of 280 knots, Schloesser said.
The V-280 will also be able fly a "200-nautical mile air assault mission," carrying 12-14 combat troops and return to base without refueling, Schloesser said, touting the Valor's projected 400-mile range.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.