After the U.S. Army’s biggest helicopter competition in 40 years, Fort Worth-based Bell Textron has been awarded an initial U.S. Army contract worth up to $1.3 billion to replace the famed Black Hawk combat attack helicopter. Bell’s tilt-rotor V-280 Valor was developed and tested as part of the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program, which began in 2013.
The Valor’s competition for the contract was a rival design from Boeing and Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky.
Designed for long-range assault missions, the Valor took its first test flight back in 2017. Its tiltrotor engine design allows it to take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane. Bell originally innovated the tiltrotor technology in the Army’s Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.
Win could ultimately lead to $70 billion in sales
The Valor is slated to replace around 2,000 Black Hawk helicopters by 2030, but not by one-to-one aircraft matching, Defense News reported.
The initial Army contract involves refinement of the Valor’s weapon system design, sustainment, digital enterprise, manufacturing, systems integration, flight-testing, and airworthiness qualification. But the “engineering and manufacturing development and low-rate production phase” could be worth as much as $7 billion, according Defense news—with the program potentially worth around $70 billion across the life of the fleet, including foreign military sales.
Designed for ‘operational agility’
The Valor is designed to offer military commanders “operational agility” to perform a variety of vertical lift missions.
“This is an exciting time for the U.S. Army, Bell, and Team Valor as we modernize the Army’s aviation capabilities for decades to come,” Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell, said in a statement. “Bell has a long history supporting Army Aviation and we are ready to equip Soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable, and affordable high-performance long-range assault weapon system in the world.”
‘A transformational aircraft’
After the Valor’s first test flight in 2017, Snyder said it is “designed to revolutionize vertical lift for the U.S. Army and represents a transformational aircraft for all the challenging missions our armed forces are asked to undertake.”
Scott C. Donnelly, Textron’s chairman and CEO, said his company intends to honor the Army’s trust” by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army’s mission requirements. We’re excited to play an important role in the future of Army Aviation.”
To date, Bell has delivered 30,000 vertical lift products to military and commercial customers in the U.S. and around the world, the company said.
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