Defence Helicopter

AUSA 2018: Bell eyes FVL rapid prototype phase (video)

9th October 2018 - 17:19 GMT | by Tim Martin in Washington D.C.


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V-280 Valor manufacturer Bell is open to the idea of a rapid prototype phase taking place, under the US Army's Future Vertical Lift medium to long range aircraft programme. 

The service still has key decisions to make before defining formal requirements of a production worthy, next generation aircraft for Capability Set 3, with industry eager to see processes expedited.  

'Our conversations with army senior leaders indicate that they are deeply interested in moving forward in an accelerated way,' Jeff Schloesser, EVP strategic pursuits at Bell said. 

'There are a number of pathways to do a rapid prototype phase and ultimately move to a programme of record.'

Based on its own test evaluations of the V-280, Bell is also fully confident it has now reached a point where technology maturation on the aircraft has been proven to the point where discussion of a production aircraft is unavoidable.

'The army has said they will put the money toward where the technology leads. In other words, the winners of these JMRTDs, we believe, will culminate in a production decision,' Schloesser explained.

In the interim, Bell continues to ramp up its V-280 flight test programme, with the aircraft having flown 64 flight hours since first flight in December 2017. 

'We've gone up to 215kts for level flight, gears up, and we have been using a full augmented mode - a stability system - that provides more control for fly by wire capabilities,' Schloesser commented. 

'The aircraft has reached 11,500ft so far, although that's not a ceiling and also a 4500ft per minute rate per climb at 160kts.'

It's also anticipated that installation of the Lockheed Martin-made pilot distributed aperture system will begin shortly, a capability allowing '360 degree awareness', according to Schloessser.

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