Bell V-280 Valor Next-Generation Tilt-Rotor Aircraft Prototype Has Just Made Its First Flight

The Bell V-280 Valor prototype has successfully achieved first flight at the Bell Helicopter assembly facility in Amarillo, TX.

On Dec. 18, the first prototype of the V-280 Valor, registration N280BH, performed its first flight at Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center.

Interestingly, both the images and the footage released by Bell Helicopter have been doctored to hide some details of the Valor’s T64-GE-419 tilting gearbox design: unlike the V-22‘s engines that rotate along with the gearboxes, in the V-280, the gearbox is the only thing that rotates.

Anyway, the gearbox is clearly visible in the images we have published on Aug. 30.

The V-280 Valor is Bell’s submission for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) phase, the technology demonstration precursor to Future Vertical Lift (FVL), a replacement for the service’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters.

The V-280 will have a crew of 4 (including two pilots) and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Its cruising speed will be 280 knots (hence the designation V-280) and its top speed will be 300 kts. It’s designed for a range of 2,100 nautical miles and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi although the Army’s requirements for the demonstrator call for hot and high hover performance (at 6,000 feet and 95 F), and the ability to self-deploy 2,100 nautical miles at a speed of at least 230 knots.

A front view of the V-280 during its first flight. Note the blurred gearbox details. (All images: Bell Helicopters).

H/T our friend Isaac Alexander (@jetcitystar) for the heads-up.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.