Valor and Defiant to race for future Army $100 Bn helicopter replacement program

The US Army has selected Bell Helicopters and a team formed by Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing as the two contractors to design and build future helicopters under the service Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator JMR-TD).

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Bell Helicopters' V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft
Sikorsky and Boeing will develop the Defiant, utilizing the X2 technology, combining counter-rotating rotor design with pusher prop providing the forward speed. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
Sikorsky and Boeing will develop the Defiant, utilizing the X2 technology, combining counter-rotating rotor design with pusher prop providing the forward speed. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update

The US Army has selected two contractors to design and build future helicopters under the service Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator JMR-TD). The two contractors selected for the Phase I stage of the program are Bell Helicopters with the V-280 Valor tilt-rotor design and the Sikorsky-Boeing team, that will develop a future multirole helicopter based on the SB>1 defiant. First flights of these new demonstrators are expected in 2017. Two of the smaller bidders – AVX that offered the compound helicopter, and Karem Aircraft optimum-speed tilt-rotor, were both eliminated.

The Defiant aircraft will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for vertical and forward flight, a pusher propeller for high-speed acceleration and deceleration and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system. According to Sikorsky, The Defiant aircraft packages evolutionary technologies in a new, innovative and affordable design that flies faster, farther and with more payload.

“Defiant will use Sikorsky’s proven X2 technology to overcome aircraft design challenges, which will be critical requirements on future vertical lift aircraft,” said Mick Maurer, Sikorsky president. “The Sikorsky-Boeing team’s integrated approach has created a unique blend of expertise, innovative spirit and customer commitment that are unmatched in the industry. The complementary capabilities of each team member have delivered a design that will provide the best future vertical lift solution to the U.S. Army, and the flexibility of our design makes it suited for naval applications as well. This is a major leap forward.”

The V-280 Valor builds upon Bell’s proven tiltrotor technology which delivers high speed and agility to perform a multitude of missions. Bell Helicopters is proposing the Bell V-280 as a ‘clean-sheet design’, which reduces complexity and improves reliability, maintainability and sustainability, while reducing total ownerships cost. According to Bell the helicopter is expected to fly twice as fast and reach twice the range of today’s assault helicopters. Bell has teamed with Lockheed Martin on this program. The role of Lockheed Martin will focus on integrated avionics, sensors, and weapons. Bell has invited more companies to join as team members.

The JMR TD program supports the Department of Defense’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to deliver the next generation of vertical lift aircraft with greater performance, reliability and affordability. The project is the precursor to the Army’s future helicopter platform that will be replacing some 4,000 helicopters in US military service by the 2030s. at a cost that could top $100 billion.

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