Bell Helicopters has completed its first V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft that the Army plans will eventually replace its fleets of Black Hawk and Apache attack choppers.
The tilt-rotor design yields a much higher cruising speed of 265 mph for the Valor, compared to 183 mph for the Black Hawk.
The Valor is Bell's response to the Army's $100 billion (!) Joint Multi-Role-Future Vertical Lift (JMR-FVL) contract to replace its workhorse helicopters with something faster by 2030.
A key difference between the Valor and the Marine Corps' bigger V-22 Osprey is that the Valor's engine nacelles are fixed in place, with only the propeller/rotors tilting up when needed. This makes maintenance easier and eliminates jet exhaust blasting downward when soldiers are climbing in and out of the plane-chopper.
"The V-280 has been designed to provide our military with the speed, range and operational productivity needed to complete any mission successfully and outmatch every opponent," boasts Bell on its web site.
We, and our future soldiers, surely hope this is true.