The first prototype of the V-280 Valor performed its first flight at Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center earlier this week. The aircraft lifted vertically off the ground and hovered in ground effect.
According to Flight Global, the hover test comes after the V-280 began a series of check-outs for first flight in September, including validating the GE Aviation T64 engines and electromagnetic interference on the Lockheed Martin-supplied avionics. Bell also tested the V-280’s gearboxes, actuation, software, and rotors.
The Aviationist adds that the V-280 Valor is Bell’s submission for the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) phase, the technology demonstration precursor to Future Vertical Lift (FVL), a replacement for the service’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters.
The V-280 will have a crew of 4 (including two pilots) and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Its cruising speed will be 280 knots (hence the designation V-280), and its top speed will be 300 knots. It’s designed for a range of 2,100 nautical miles and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi although the Army’s requirements for the demonstrator call for hot and high hover performance (at 6,000 feet and 95 F), and the ability to self-deploy 2,100 nautical miles at a speed of at least 230 knots.
"The Valor is designed to revolutionize vertical lift for the U.S. Army and represents a transformational aircraft for all the challenging missions our armed forces are asked to undertake," said Bell CEO Mitch Snyder.