The United States military has been known to push its helicopters to the very brink of their usability. For instance, the Black Hawk has significantly surpassed its operating lifetime.
But the issues with China caused US authorities to evaluate what they have, and they set on an ambitious project set to replace the current fleets of helicopters with next-generation rotorcraft equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
End of an Era
The introduction of the Black Hawk in the 1970s brought a wide array of new capabilities and the introduction of electronic warfare systems. For decades it became a symbol of military might.
Even so, the US is looking to replace all of its Black Hawk helicopters within the following decade.
The Bell Solution
The Future Vertical Lift initiative has summoned the best aircraft manufacturers to build the next generation of combat rotorcraft.
Bell mustered all of its years of experience and expertise in creating tiltrotor aircraft for the past 60 years to create the ultimate combat rotorcraft, a vehicle with unparalleled reliability, survivability, and raw power.
Best of Both Worlds
A quick glance at the airframe makes one realize that it’s a deviation from the conventional helicopter design of the Black Hawk. The new aircraft is not either a helicopter or an airplane, but the best of both worlds.
A Modern Design
With its tilt-rotor configuration, the Bell V-280 Valor can take all the advantages of a helicopter like landing vertically almost anywhere with safety and ease while retaining the excellent range and speed of a fixed-wing warplane during high-altitude cruising.
It also has a triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control system, eradicating the possibility of human error leading to crashes, especially during landing and takeoff.
Black Hawk’s Heir
Valor’s main competitor is a submission by Sikorsky, the company behind the Black Hawk, which is now working with Boeing on the SB-1 Defiant, an ambitious compound helicopter with rigid dual coaxial rotors which looks like it was pulled straight from a science fiction film.
As testing continues, it’s almost a matter of time before we know which of these groundbreaking planes end up replacing the Black Hawk.