HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Prominent companies are vying for the chance to be the new replacement to the iconic United States Army Black Hawk. This week some of those major companies unveiled prototypes of state-of-the-art technology that could change the course of how the Army fights and flies.
While the Sikorsky-Boeing team is hopeful they will be the Black Hawk replacement, American aerospace manufacturer, Bell has two prototypes in the race as well.
The United States Army looks to stay ahead in military technology and remain ahead of the curve when it comes to its weapons. Now, it’s searching for the future of helicopters through its Vertical Lift Program.
Bell is no stranger to creating state-of-the-art helicopters. With well know names like the Huey and several other iconic helicopters, they’ve now created two more state-of-the-art prototypes.
The Valor and The Invictus.
Mike Simmons with Bell Advanced Vertical Lift Systems says the Bell 360 Invictus brings a whole variety of advanced capabilities with new technology.
“That is an armed reconnaissance aircraft, not an Apache. But, an aircraft that supplements and actually works in a space, like armed reconnaissance. Where you go out and actually look for targets and make decisions as to what you want to do with those targets,” Simmons told News 19.
Bell’s second prototype, the V2-Valor is what Bell hopes to be the choice to replace the Army’s iconic Black Hawk and Bell says they have just the right offer.
“The Bell V-280 Valor, twice the speed, twice the range, much more payload, just much much better capability a real game-changer in terms of what it’ll bring to bear with the new technologies,” Simmons said.
Bell has been flying its V280 valor prototype for four years, the aircraft has gone beyond 300 knots and can cruise at 280 knots, which is well over double the top speed of the Black Hawk.
Simmons says the reality is, “The demands of the future battlefield demand better technology and better systems.”
Not only has Bell spent countless hours improving technologies they’re familiar with, “We’ve had multiple Army experimental test pilots that have flown the aircraft. We’ve really had an opportunity over the past several years to bring that aircraft out and actually prove through flight, through actual factual data and flight data all the capabilities of that aircraft,” Simmons said.
Bell is no stranger to the tilt rotor, the company has over 60 years of tilt rotor experience and with several of their aircraft utilizing the technology, including the Osprey which continues to fly in several branches of the military.
Simmons says with that experience, they hope to change the way the Army takes flight.
“We have applied all that to this new design and optimized this new design for the Army mission to replace that Black Hawk. We’re very very comfortable and very, very confident that based on that experience, that our technology is ready to go,” Simmons said.
The Army is set to make a decision on which prototype they’ll use, sometime early next year.