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Bell unveils V-280 Valor tiltrotor concept for U.S. Army program


April 11, 2013

The V-280 Valor tiltrotor is Bell Helicopter's concept for the U.S. Army's Joint Multi Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program

The V-280 Valor tiltrotor is Bell Helicopter's concept for the U.S. Army's Joint Multi Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program

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Bell Helicopter has thrown its tiltrotor hat into the ring for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program with the unveiling of its V-280 Valor tiltrotor concept at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America's (AAAA) Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas. The aircraft is up against an X2-based design from Boeing and Sikorsky, a coaxial design from AVX Aircraft, and a still unknown proposal from EADS.

Bell calls its offering a third generation tiltrotor, building on the experience gained from the first generation XV-3 and XV-15, to the second generation 609 civil tiltrotor and V-22 Osprey. Unlike the V-22, whose engines tilt along with the rotors, the engines of the V-280 remain fixed horizontally while the rotors and drive system tilt.

The wing is also straight rather than forward-swept like the V-22’s. This wing will be produced in one large piece and utilize Large Cell Carbon Core technology in an effort to reduce weight and manufacturing costs. This construction will also allow immediate detection of damage to the wing. The aircraft also features a V-tail, composite fuselage and a triple redundant fly-buy-wire flight control system.

The “V” in V-280 stands for “Vertical,” while the 280 refers to the aircraft’s 280 knot (322 mph/518 km/h) cruising speed. Designed as a medium class aircraft, the V-280 has space for a crew of four and 11 troops who can enter and exit through two six foot (1.8 m) wide side doors, which are also designed to increase door gunners' field of fire. Bell lists its combat range at 500 to 800 nautical miles (575 miles/926 km), with a self-deploy range of 2,100 nautical miles (2,417 miles/3,889 km).

The JMR Technology Demonstrator effort aims to develop a replacement medium-lift rotorcraft for the U.S. Army’s fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters, with one or more of the aforementioned companies to be selected to build a prototype ready for take off in 2017.

Bell Helicopter looks to have sunk a bit of money into the following video showing how the V-280 might look when complete.

Source: Bell Helicopter

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Is that me or does someone else also notice the similarity of the fuselage of this aircraft and the one of UH-60 Blackhawk.

Kaido Tiigisoon

Yep, first thing I noticed as well...UH-60 Blackhawk


So good that they tried to make an effort, but who shoots a green screen scene and have the camera man holding the cam? the background is moving all over the place. I sure wouldn't buy there helicopter if they cant even make simple things like that in the right way.

Toffe Kaal

I think it is really cool. I think it could have a lot of civilian usage too. It would be great for use when transporting people and equipement to oil rigs or hard to reach places that don't have an airport but have just enough space for a helicopter but too far for a traditional helicopter to reach. I think having a civilian version could help reduce cost for the military; IMO.


If they played any Halo, they would have seen the same exact thing in the game long time ago...


Yeah, cool. And it's nice to know we are that much closer to having Skynet up and running.

I've never figured out why they don't do tilt wing as lighter, stronger, more simple and likely cost less. The X-2 is a far better, more stable, less costly and lighter way though. jerryd


And yes Chris, I think is was the Falcon in Halo Reach, can't remember the Halo 3 one.

Seth Kazzim

A great civilian use would be an upgrade to the standard helicopter air ambulances. Extensive capacity, and longer range when necessary.


Modern gyroplanes would be better:


11-13 passengers won't cut it in the international market & Bell shouldn't assume that it will for the JMR either just because that was the spec for the UH-60. A 20 passenger capacity would be the minimum to replace the likes of the AS332. The US Army may want a bigger cabin as well since there will likely not be enough JMR to replace the UH-60 1 for 1.


I can't believe three bladed rotors, more blades would make each blade shorter in no ay reducing its hover capability while improving the performance in horizontal flight. It might be worth the complexity of putting counter-rotating rotors on both wingtips.

re; michael_dowling

I don't care what the animation showed gyroplanes don't hover and in combat insertions the helicopters don't touch down.


I thought the bugs had finally been worked out of the Osprey tilt rotor. Or is that money pit now pushed off to the side and they are dangling the newest spinny-shinny thing for the military to buy and taxpayers to pay for.

Tom Swift

Good way to recycle airframes, nice Hope they make civilian models unlike Osprey V22. Good to see competition

Bell build this for civiies if DoD says NO

Stephen Russell

re; Tom Swift

The V-22 is designed to fold up for stowage on aircraft carriers This makes the V-22 heavy for its capability. The army has no reason to accept that penalty in an aircraft that will never be carrier based.


Ha ha the blackhawk was my first thought. A couple of comments.

This might be a way to start to get some value out of that ridiculous V22 program. Bell is apparently well down the track of getting their civilian tilt rotor into production - despite the differences, this new concept would clearly use most of the technology, computer code etc.

The extra speed and range is nice but the amount of messing around to get it via tilt rotors has never seemed like a good deal to me. Sikorsky's X-2 concept seems much more realistic: simpler, safer wrt battle damage etc. Despite that ... point 1.

We'll move beyond naked rotors at some stage and at that point things will get easier but for now, I don't see much point in flogging this horse. It's always nice to get places quicker but no-one is planning neo-blitzkrieg and covert penetrations represent a small percentage of missions.


re; Hogey74

Switching flight modes in a battle damaged tilt-rotor might be more excitement than a man can stand but the V-22s rotors were tested to see that they would not shower the fuselage with shrapnel in case of a horizontal flight mode landing.

History has shown that somebody is always planning the industrial scale armed robbery that is a war of aggression. Look at North Korea.


Same design but four enclosed rotors. Like large Fenestrons. But the type where the rotors are not driven from the center.

Advantages: 1. Redundancy, can fly on 3 or opposing 2 2. Less noise, and directed thrust 3. Can take extreme fire and provide partial lift 4. More control, can hover off axis 5. Can bump into structures and not damage rotors 6. Safer for personnel to be around


Kill it before it lays eggs!

Helge Pharrherr

re; Nairda

Both rotors can be powered by either engine. There are cheaper ways to reduce noise, and rotors push in any direction. If armored enough to make a difference the weight of the shroud cancels out any benefits shrouds provide. The V-22 can hover in a serious nose up or nose down attitude why would you want more. If structurally robust enough for this the weight of the shroud cancels out any benefits shrouds provide. people stupid enough to get hit by a rotor blades need to be removed from the gene pool. Also shrouded rotors come with a host of disadvantages including cost, weight, need a total redesign if plane gets new engines, ineffective autorotation, adds drag in horizontal mode glide, increased risk and damage to plane when makes horizontal mode landing. Slowburn

Great job they did not forget forward fire power like the V-22

Leonard Foster

Re Slowburn,

Good points on 1, 3, 4, 6

For 2, I would have assumed some simplistic vectoring of thrust was possible with shroud providing advantages. For 5, what I mean to say there was if the air vehicle was used in close urban environments drops, to reduce enemy fire it may need to duck between buildings. If shrouded, it would stand half a chance if it clipped a wall.

For your closing paragraph, replaceable rotors shrouded or otherwise would be treated as a single unit if the mounting to the fuselage was the same, so change-out/upgrades would not need total redesign.

Good point about the auto-rotation and additional drag in horizontal mode. Don't really understand the point about increased risk of damage on horizontal mode landing.

I guess we are also talking about different animals here. Yours is a greyhound that also bites. Mine is more of slow pit-bull.


re; Nairda

During the 1986 Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire in Puerto Rico, multiple helicopters rescued victims from the burning building. It was noted later that the surrounding buildings had marks where they had been brushed by rotor blade tips; non of the helicopters involved in the rescue crashed.

When the shrouds hit the ground bad things happen.


Great article; appreciated the video within the article.

Thanks, Michael

Michael Bernard
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