What do you get when you fuse the well-known American Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter with the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey? Well, put in a touch of Lightning and whoops there it is: the Bell Textron V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft.
Bell markets the V-280 as the next-generation tactical combat and transport aircraft for any non-fighter mission or just as maybe the most multipurpose plane ever seen. The American company has just taken the next step in making its dream come true: Lockheed Martin has been selected as the preferred partner of the project. The move is fairly remarkable since Bell works together with Lockheed Martins competitor Boeing on the V-22 Osprey currently fielded by the US armed forces.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor of the new standard fighter jet of many armed forces worldwide: the F-35 Lightning II aka Joint Strike Fighter. For US Marines and British Royal Navy service Lockheed Martin makes a special vertical take-off F-35B version. With modern engine technology that might come off handy with the tilt-rotor concept as well.
The first flight of the concept V-280 is still far, far away, with only a full-scale so-called mock-up (a fake airplane in original size) ready. But if produced the V-280 could very well make an interesting choice not only on the military market, but in the civilian disaster response area as well. Reason: a tilt-rotor flies as fast as a normal transport plane, but can hoover and land as a helicopter. That’s why the US Army is already involved in the V-280 project.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger