Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, Tilt Rotor? Son of V-22

April 10, 2013 Bell Helicopter introduced the V-280 “Valor” tilt-rotor at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America’s (AAAA) Annual Professional Forum and Exposition.

This is only the latest entry in the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Program, “A collaborative effort involving a number of parties, including Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Vertical Lift Consortium (VLC), FVL will design, develop and deliver the next generation of DoD vertical lift aircraft, according to Lt. Col. David Bristol, U.S. Army Aviation PEO for Future Vertical Lift activities.”

The program is meant to develop a replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache, and CH-47 Chinook.

“The Bell V-280 Valor’s Army-centric design boasts a number of unmatched capabilities and transformational features including:

  • Speed: 280 KTAS cruise speed
  • Combat range: 500-800nm
  • Strategically Self-Deployable – 2100nm Range
  • Achieves 6k/95
  • Non-rotating, fixed engines
  • Triple redundant fly-by-wire flight control system
  • Conventional, retractable landing gear
  • Two 6′ wide large side doors for ease of ingress/egress
  • Suitable down wash
  • Significantly smaller logistical footprint compared to other aircraft”

“The Bell V-280’s clean sheet design reduces complexity compared to previous generation tiltrotors, with fewer parts, as well as non-rotating, fixed engines.”

Hopefully some day we may be able to fulfill the medium range search requirement with the same aircraft that provides the long range rescue capability, and this replacement for the H-60 will have twice the range and almost twice the speed of its predecessor.

60 thoughts on “Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, Tilt Rotor? Son of V-22

      • The way were using the HH-60’s, I think we could replace them with Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone that the Canadian Forces are getting or get their version called the AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant.

      • Nicky, It might be a bit big. I am not sure how it compares in the rough stuff not being an air guy. But It’s an impressive copper CH-148.

      • @Patrick,
        I have heard good things about the AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant that the Canadian Forces are using as their SAR helicopter. The AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant is actually a version of the AgustaWestland AW101 that the Royal Navy is using. The AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant would be perfect for Curtain AOR’s such as Alaska, Cape Cod, Florida and even Hawaii & Oregon. As for the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone, I know my father worked on it when he worked for Sikorsky and has told me that it was designed to land on a Canadian Destroyer and Frigate. It was designed to replace the famous CH-124 Sea King. What my father told me about the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone is designed as a replacement for the SH-3 Sea King and it’s variants. So to replace the HH-60’s I think the top 3 could be the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone, AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant or the NHIndustries NH90 helicopter in the NFR NATO Frigate helicopter version.

  1. Wow! That was the largest amount of cheese since a late ’80s industry promo! Say what you will about the predictable thumping soundtrack & gruff voiceover combo, showing as little variety as its closely related action movie trailer cousins; but at least they don’t have to rope in cheap-rate bit-part extras or worse still actual contractor staff (engineers playing actors playing soldiers *shudder* – dodged that bullet myself back in the day).

    Best parts (off mic dialogue added):
    CAPT: !!! ONE MINUTE !!!
    1SG: Err Sir why are you shouting? They forgot to add internal cabin noise to this segment, so it’s as quiet as a tomb back here.
    CAPT: Shut-up and watch Powell fling open a cabin door at speed & altitude with just the fingers on one hand.
    [-later-]
    CAPT: Top, in a twist unrelated to either the original story or showcasing a product capability, I’m taking half the force away on a FRAGO and leaving you here to clean up. Oh and I’m holding you fully responsible for getting them home safely.
    1SG: Sir is this because I called you out on all the unnecessary shouting earlier?
    [-smugly relaxing in V-280-]
    CAPT: Just another mission
    Powell: Sir you know, you’ve left the First Sergeant behind in hostile territory with just a rump force. So deep in fact, that we needed the new capabilities of a Valor just to get there.
    CAPT: [smugger] Just another mission

  2. @Patrick @Nicky: Not withstanding the current UK SAR PFI competition win, that will add AW189 into the mix, but the CH-148 in its S-92 civilian guise has already entered service in the UK (HM) and Irish Coastguards for operations over the unforgiving North Atlantic. There have been no significant public revelations that would suggest any problems with its expected performance in the land-based SAR role. The South Korean CG should also be accepting theirs into service later this year.

    • I think the current AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant or the NH90 in the NFH configuration would be a perfect replacement for the HH-60J. Looking how the AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant is being used by the Canadian Forces as an SAR helicopter, shows that they are very good for the role. I also think the NH90 and the AgustaWestland AW101 would be a perfect medium Shipboard helicopter

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  4. Chuck, I saw this today (http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/prnewswire/CL24020.htm) and is got me thinking about the potential for the S-97 being a good size to be a possible replacement of the MH-65. Additionally, Sikorsky is supposed to be building a plussed up version of this to a Jayhawk sized aircraft, so this style platform has the potential for replacing the whole USCG rotor-wing fleet.

    They have a video on youtube, and you can see the Jayhawk sized helicopter in “action” around the 07:30 mark…

    Anyways, this tech seems like it could really be the future compared to all the tilt-rotor stuff out there. These are smaller, in overall size, not capacity, compared to the tilt rotor, they seem to be more maneuverable and just seem flexible enough for the USCG mission!

    • That’s a very interesting and informative video. What caught my attention was that it says that the rotor wash from these would actually be less than a traditional helo. I wouldn’t have expected that. IF all they show in the video becomes reality, I think it would be a very strong option to look at. My only concern is that it looks drastically different than most of the helicopter market and I would hope that the looks don’t deter anyone. However, since it’s a Sikorsky project, I would think their reputation speaks for itself.

      • This was posted to Youtube on the 4th, it gives a real good look at just how big, or should I say small the S-97 is

      • These two videos were also worth a quick watch. I really do think this thing has potential, and in the Raider size, it seems like it would be a good 65 replacement!

    • Thanks, David. The H-65s were introduced 30 years ago. They have been updated, but that is a long life for an airframe, and considering how long it takes for us to bring new systems on line, I would think we will have to start looking pretty soon. The H-60s came along 5-10 years later.

      Unless we plan on having 50 year old helicopters too.

      • I don’t know Chuck, if there is anyone getting screwed worse than the USCG right now, it is the US Army. The current plan is for the Chinooks to be in service for a hundred years if you can believe it.

        David, those pics and video are awesome.

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  7. Possible H-65 replacement. This from DefenseIndustryDaily, “March 15/16 The US Army is looking for a light reconnaissance helicopter external link external link to fill the vacant role made by the retirement of Bell’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. As a result, it looks likely that they will move quickly on the Future Vertical Lift-Light (FVL-Light) program because it may be more achievable in the near term in terms of cost and timing. While funding is going ahead for a medium FVL program to succeed the Sikorsky UH-60 and Boeing AH-64, nothing has been put in place to replace the Kiowa. If a competition for a light reconnaissance helicopter is to go ahead, Sikorsky says it will offer a version of its experimental S-97 Raider for the role.” http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2009-new-5-year-contract-keeps-kiowa-warriors-eyes-sharp-05227/?utm_medium=textlink&utm_term=continuereading

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  11. Regarding the light version, which could be optionally manned.
    “The current time line says the Army will start with an initial design phase involving four to six participants between fiscal year 2019 and FY-20. This would be followed by a prototyping phase with only two participants from that initial group, which it hopes would not run longer than FY-23. The Army said it would fund one prototype per agreement.”

    https://insidedefense.com/insider/armys-future-attack-recon-aircraft-could-be-remotely-operated

  12. This post started in 2013 and added mention of the SB-1 in 2014. Now, in 2018, there is no joint program office (and therefore no signs of a combined-use system, like the H-60), and prototypes are not expected for another year or two *at the earliest* (granted technology demonstrators have been around for a long time).

    WWII lasted 3.5 years for the US and we developed, designed, produced, and deployed the atomic bomb in that time! The old engineering saying: “Fast, Good, Cheap; pick any two” comes to mind… It looks like we are getting only good in this program, with it turning slow and expensive!

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  14. It looks like the Army is speeding up the selection of the smaller, “Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft,” version of the Future Vertical Lift project that is squarely aimed at producing an aircraft similar in size to the H-65. Specs call for a max rotor diameter of 40 feet and a max length of 40 feet. The H-65s rotor diameter is 39’1″ and its length is 38’1″. https://www.defensenews.com/land/2018/10/03/us-army-triggers-design-competition-for-future-attack-reconnaissance-helicopter/

  15. Well,I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I predict the USCG will go it’s own way and buy something off the shelf.

    The Pentagon has been jacking around with this program longer than CG did Deepwater… There are a couple technology demonstrators and more work being done, and I’m sure both prototypes will go onward to see decent sales,,,,,,,, 10 or 15 years from now. However, everybody is saying “slow and steady wins the race,” which means these advancements will come far too long after the H-65 needs replaced, and possibly after the H-60s need to be gone.

    The tilt-rotor design seems to be very, incredibly, risky, both technologically and stability-wise in the environmental conditions the CG flys in. Even if it folds-and-stows like the V-22, it is likely going to be too large for current and proposed hangars on Cutters. Volume/capacity, range, and speed all are good, but the problems above seem pretty severe.

    The S-97 and SB-1 are very attractive. High stability, speed, range, maneuverability, cabin size, all good. But, the X-2 rotor system uses rigid rotors, so there will be no folding and stowing in hangars. Even the S-97 technology demonstrator at 34′ diameter rotor would be too wide to fit inside. It’s a shame, because speed is of the essence in SAR cases, but this a/c would be land-locked, unless tying down to the flight deck during all environments the Cutter & A/C sees is acceptable?

    My bet is the CG will follow the Navy’s path, which was to buy new-build H-60s. There may be other light/short-range rescue helos which would fill the bill for replacing the H-65s?

    I’d love to hear an airedale’s perspective. Any of those follow your blog, Chuck?

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