Bell V-280 Chosen to Replace the H-60

MIflyer

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The US Army has chosen a developed version of the Bell V-280 Valor to replace the Sikorsky H-60 Blackhawk for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program. Note that on the V-280 the enginds tilt but the nacelles do not, unlike the V-22. The initial contract is for $280M for development work, continuing already 5 years of work done by Bell. Interestingly enough, Bell recently delivered the last H-1 helicopters built to the USMC.

The V-280 won the contact over the Boeing/Sikorsky Defiant coaxial rotor pusher propeller design.


Screenshot 2022-12-14 at 14-16-56 This is the first helicopter purchase by the U.S. Army in ov...png
Screenshot 2022-12-14 at 14-16-16 This is the first helicopter purchase by the U.S. Army in ov...png
Screenshot 2022-12-14 at 14-15-57 This is the first helicopter purchase by the U.S. Army in ov...png
Screenshot 2022-12-14 at 14-27-43 This is the first helicopter purchase by the U.S. Army in ov...png
 

DerAdlerIstGelandet

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No comment other than I don’t understand how they came to this decision.

I don’t see the Valor being able to perform the role of the Black Hawk because of size. It ain’t going to fit in a C-5, and it sure as hell will not be able to land in the same confined spaces as the Black Hawk or Defiant.

I’ve spoken to several of the Black Hawk pilots I used to fly with in the Army, and none of them are in agreement with this decision.
 

J_P_C

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i tend to agree with every point you have raised, i think there are couple elements may justified this decision:
1) jealous - Army would like to have their own V22 - and other branches keep them non-informed about maintenance and tactical usage problems with V-22 :D
2) internal cargo load advantage (hard to deny that X-2 configuration is consuming massive amount of internal fuselage space)
3) speed/survivability - at least in Bell's marketing team documents
4) range advantage and self-deployment capability (i think it is only area where tilt rotor advantage is clear)
5) army would like to prove that they are capable to make success in the field where other branches have failed (at least partially)
 

DerAdlerIstGelandet

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i tend to agree with every point you have raised, i think there are couple elements may justified this decision:
1) jealous - Army would like to have their own V22 - and other branches keep them non-informed about maintenance and tactical usage problems with V-22 :D
2) internal cargo load advantage (hard to deny that X-2 configuration is consuming massive amount of internal fuselage space)
3) speed/survivability - at least in Bell's marketing team documents
4) range advantage and self-deployment capability (i think it is only area where tilt rotor advantage is clear)
5) army would like to prove that they are capable to make success in the field where other branches have failed (at least partially)

I have no issues with the Valor fulfilling a role, just not the assault role the Black Hawk does.
 

DerAdlerIstGelandet

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considering latest combat experiences classic assault role for the transport helicopters is over. Air/land battle theory must be seriously revised... could be this is real source of this selection.

I disagree. Even in the types of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan assaults are still carried out. The days of a hundred helicopters landing into a contested LZ may be over, but assualting one or two aircraft into confined areas is what is occuring.
 

J_P_C

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Im not disagree with your disagreement :D - but this may be task SF operated machines than. Needs of special operations may not be basis for making decision related to core force. I dont see even small chance for classic helicopters to be gone from inventory both types will coexist. As you said there are plenty tasks where helicopter is presenting clear edge over tiltrotor.
 

DerAdlerIstGelandet

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Im not disagree with your disagreement :D - but this may be task SF operated machines than. Needs of special operations may not be basis for making decision related to core force.

I served in a conventional assault unit, not an SF one so I base my opinions on that.

I think we missed the mark here.
 

J_P_C

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Well you are based your opinion on tactics massive air assaults than - you are in contradiction to your own statement "The days of a hundred helicopters landing into a contested LZ may be over". Survivability of the helicopter (and tiltrotor) on the "last mile" area is none - just easy pray for MANPADS and mobile AAA.
 

MIflyer

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I think it likely that SF and SAR operations in contested areas will employ VTOL drones in multiple roles. The V-280 is well set up to serve as a drone controller. If I had been asked to come up with a proposal for the USAF SAR mission that ultimately produced the HH-47 (to many people's horror) I would have recommended multiple helicopters about the size of an OH-58, all but one of which on typical mission would be unmanned. You would add UAV or manned copters to the mission package as required. We are expecting in the near term to see electrically propelled VTOL machines operating autonomously to carry civilian passengers around urban areas. With something more robust than electric motors and batteries for propulsion, those kind of essentially COTS capabilities could be very useful for SAR or SF Ops. If civilians are willing to climb into a UAV to fly across town, military should be willing to use them to insert or extract forces from contested areas with less danger to flight crews and a reduction in the size and vulnerability of the vehicles required.
 

DerAdlerIstGelandet

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Well you are based your opinion on tactics massive air assaults than - you are in contradiction to your own statement "The days of a hundred helicopters landing into a contested LZ may be over". Survivability of the helicopter (and tiltrotor) on the "last mile" area is none - just easy pray for MANPADS and mobile AAA.

Excuse me? We did not conduct massive assaults. We were 2 to 8 ships maximum as a conventional unit. I contradicted absolutely nothing. Tactics have simply changed.

Or are you going to put more words in my mouth, and tell me I have no clue what we did? I said The days of a hundred helicopters landing into a contested LZ may be over, but assualting one or two aircraft into confined areas is what is occurring. Don’t pick and choose my words my friend… :D

I mean no disrespect to you either, I suspect we have a language barrier issue only.
 
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J_P_C

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sorry for my "polglish" :D - generally i think we have agreed in relation to the facts that tactics have changed and will be subject of continuous evolution as well helicopters will remain part of the inventory for long years to come. In my opinion tiltorotors are not better than helicopters, they are simply different. Factors which will decide if this decision was good one will be different than we have discussed - maintenance, reliability and affordability, I think this ones will decide if Pentagon was right or wrong (they do have long story of doing both kinds of decisions).
 

J_P_C

Senior Airman
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Feb 21, 2010
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I think it likely that SF and SAR operations in contested areas will employ VTOL drones in multiple roles. The V-280 is well set up to serve as a drone controller. If I had been asked to come up with a proposal for the USAF SAR mission that ultimately produced the HH-47 (to many people's horror) I would have recommended multiple helicopters about the size of an OH-58, all but one of which on typical mission would be unmanned. You would add UAV or manned copters to the mission package as required. We are expecting in the near term to see electrically propelled VTOL machines operating autonomously to carry civilian passengers around urban areas. With something more robust than electric motors and batteries for propulsion, those kind of essentially COTS capabilities could be very useful for SAR or SF Ops. If civilians are willing to climb into a UAV to fly across town, military should be willing to use them to insert or extract forces from contested areas with less danger to flight crews and a reduction in the size and vulnerability of the vehicles required.
Im fully agree with this opinion... except statement that civilians are willing to fly in autonomous machines - as far this is not fact just wishful thinking of couple companies...
 
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DerAdlerIstGelandet

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sorry for my "polglish" :D - generally i think we have agreed in relation to the facts that tactics have changed and will be subject of continuous evolution as well helicopters will remain part of the inventory for long years to come. In my opinion tiltorotors are not better than helicopters, they are simply different. Factors which will decide if this decision was good one will be different than we have discussed - maintenance, reliability and affordability, I think this ones will decide if Pentagon was right or wrong (they do have long story of doing both kinds of decisions).

Polglish… lol

I love it.
 

wuzak

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No comment other than I don’t understand how they came to this decision.

I don’t see the Valor being able to perform the role of the Black Hawk because of size. It ain’t going to fit in a C-5, and it sure as hell will not be able to land in the same confined spaces as the Black Hawk or Defiant.

I’ve spoken to several of the Black Hawk pilots I used to fly with in the Army, and none of them are in agreement with this decision.

Checking the stats on Wiki, the Valor is 81.79ft (24.93m) in width vs 53 ft 8 in (16.36m) rotor diameter for the Blackhawk.

That seems a significant difference.

How tight a space could they fit?
 

DerAdlerIstGelandet

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Checking the stats on Wiki, the Valor is 81.79ft (24.93m) in width vs 53 ft 8 in (16.36m) rotor diameter for the Blackhawk.

That seems a significant difference.

How tight a space could they fit?

We would land within urban settings and tight clearings within forests and tree lines. I don’t know what the allowable clearances were.
 

GreenKnight121

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No comment other than I don’t understand how they came to this decision.

I don’t see the Valor being able to perform the role of the Black Hawk because of size. It ain’t going to fit in a C-5, and it sure as hell will not be able to land in the same confined spaces as the Black Hawk or Defiant.

I’ve spoken to several of the Black Hawk pilots I used to fly with in the Army, and none of them are in agreement with this decision.
i tend to agree with every point you have raised, i think there are couple elements may justified this decision:
1) jealous - Army would like to have their own V22 - and other branches keep them non-informed about maintenance and tactical usage problems with V-22 :D
2) internal cargo load advantage (hard to deny that X-2 configuration is consuming massive amount of internal fuselage space)
3) speed/survivability - at least in Bell's marketing team documents
4) range advantage and self-deployment capability (i think it is only area where tilt rotor advantage is clear)
5) army would like to prove that they are capable to make success in the field where other branches have failed (at least partially)

Here are a couple of images to consider:

Defiant - need to completely remove the entire rotor & hub set-up to fit in a C-5.

FjY1YBAXkAYoJvB.jpg


Note that even the fuselage is taller than a UH-60.


Valor is available with folding-wing option:

ChdOKBlUgAE8w4n.jpg



v-280-image11.jpg


Isn't that a nice, neat C-5 compatible package?
And even if the US Army version doesn't have the folding (rotating) wing... look at the ferry ranges below.


Here are some specs from the flight tests (of which Valor has conducted more than 3 times as many as Defiant, due to issues getting the Defiant flight-capable)... note that the US Army has said that they are focusing on Pacific-theatre requirements:

Defiant:
max speed: 211 knots (lower than the smaller SB-1, and less than Sikorsky had expected); "expected to be above 250 knots in production form"
combat radius: 229 nm (when the Future Affordable Turbine Engine is installed, rather than the T55s used for the test flights)
ferry range: ~700nm

Valor:
max speed: 300 knots proven in tests
combat radius: 800nm
ferry range: 2,200 nm


Perhaps the speed & range differences, and the deployability difference (Valor doesn't really need to be shipped in C-5s with that kind of ferry range) plus the lower-than-expected performance of the scaled-up Defiant-X over that of the smaller SB-1 demonstrator led the Army to feel that Valor was significantly better for their purposes than Defiant?
 
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