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Bell Textron opens new laboratory to support bid for US Army’s FLRAA

14th March 2024 - 11:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


Bell Textron’s V-280 Valor to replace Black Hawk helicopters. (Photo: Bell Textron)

In December 2022, the US Army awarded an initial $1.3 billion contract to Bell Textron for US Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), choosing to proceed with its V-280 Valor bid, and the new site will support this programme.

Bell Textron has opened its new 47,000sqft facility Weapon System’s Integration Lab (WSIL) facility in Texas to support the development and manufacture of its V-280 Valor tiltrotor which has been selected for the US Army’s FLRAA.

As Shephard previously reported, Bell registered the plans with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in the middle of February last year. 

The facility will be used for the integration and test of a next generation fly-by-wire tiltrotor and mission systems using a modular open systems approach (MOSA).

Manufacture of the building began in 2021 and it will support end-to-end integration of systems with modern avionics, electrical, hydraulic, flight controls and mission and sensor systems for current and future programmes, crewed and uncrewed.

FLRAA is the largest US Army helicopter procurement in four decades with the initial award, worth up to US$1.3 billion, was placed in 2022 and the V-280 design is set to replace around 2,000 Black Hawk utility helicopters from 2030.

This initial contract will refine the weapon system design, sustainment, digital enterprise, manufacturing, systems integration, flight-testing and airworthiness qualification.

Shephard Defence Insight notes that the first flight and the Critical Design Review is planned for 2024 but selection was 12 months later than originally planned. Under the original schedule, LRIP contracts could have been awarded as early as 2025. The army has stated it would like the first FLRAA-equipped units to be in place by 2030.

The Shephard News Team


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