Textron Inc (NYSE: TXT) announced that Bell Textron Inc., a Textron company, has won the development contract to build the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. This contract is the army’s largest helicopter procurement decision in 40 years.
This deal for the next-generation helicopter is worth up to $1.3 billion and is set to replace roughly 2,000 Black Hawk utility helicopters and around 1,200 Apache attack helicopters around 2030. FLRAA will not serve as a one-for-one replacement for existing aircraft, but it will take over the roles of the Black Hawk, long the workhorse of the Army for getting troops to and around the battlefield, and the Apache, focused on attack missions.
The award was based on Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor that was developed and tested as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program that began in 2013. The V-280 progressed through design, manufacturing, and more than three years of rigorous flight testing that provided extensive data validating the technical and operational advantages of the aircraft for the long-range assault mission.
The V-280 is designed for a cruising speed of 280 knots (320 mph), hence the name V-280, a top speed of 300 knots (345 mph), a range of 2,100 nautical miles (2,400 mi), and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi (580 to 920 mi). Expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 pounds. IThe V-280 will have retractable landing gear, a triple-redundant fly by wire control system, and a V-tail configuration.
“We are honored that the U.S. Army has selected the Bell V-280 Valor as its next-generation assault aircraft,” said Scott C. Donnelly, Textron’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We intend to honor that trust by building a truly remarkable and transformational weapon system to meet the Army’s mission requirements. We are excited to play an important role in the future of Army Aviation.”