Bell to team with Lockheed Martin on V-280 tilt-rotor

Posted Monday, Sep. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Lockheed Martin will join Bell Helicopter to build a new tilt-rotor aircraft, officials said Monday.

Three of Lockheed Martin’s business units will join Bell in developing the V-280 Valor, a “third-generation” tilt-rotor able to hover at altitudes over 6,000 feet, company officials said. The company’s larger V-22 Osprey flies at 13,000 feet and is designed for a different set of missions, Bell officials said.

Lockheed’s part of the deal is to equip the Valor with a mission equipment package, officials said. The package will reflect many of the technological advancements that produced Lockheed Martin’s F-35 joint strike fighter Lightning II, being built at its west side factory.

“We are very excited,” Bell President and CEO John Garrison said in a statement Monday. Lockheed Martin’s “experience and innovation ... will help us provide the highest levels of maturity and technical readiness required for future vertical lift missions.”

Bell’s V-280 Valor is expected to compete for an Army contract in a Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program. The contract is expected to be awarded this month, according to Bell.

AVX Aircraft Company, of Fort Worth, is also a contender in the competition, spokesman Mike Cox said Monday.

The Washington D.C.-based Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training division will take the lead for Lockheed on the project, with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Grand Prairie also involved, Lockheed spokeswoman Melissa Hilliard said Monday.

In April, a model of the Valor was unveiled to hundreds of spectators at the Fort Worth Convention Center during the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America’s exposition.

Valor’s “clean sheet design” reduces complexity compared with previous generations of tilt-rotors, with fewer parts, as well as nonrotating, fixed engines, Chris Gehler, Bell’s business development manager for future vertical lift, told the Star-Telegram during the exposition.

Garrison also touted the benefits of the tilt-rotor during the exposition conference.

“The name itself makes an important statement of its own,” Garrison said, “V representing vertical lift, 280 representing its unmatched speed, and Valor as a tribute to the servicemen and women who approach their jobs with valor every day.”

Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705 Twitter: @yberard

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