Bell Textron’s Valor wins Army’s FLRAA competition to replace Black Hawk

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The V-280 Valor, Bell’s entry for the Army’s future long-range assault aircraft in flight. (bell)

WASHINGTON – After years of development, prototyping and test flights, the Army announced today that the Bell Textron Valor tiltrotor has won Its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition to succeed the aging UH-60 Black Hawk and become a key component of the Army’s future force.

This announcement gave Bell a huge victory not only in America But with a global community of 28 Black Hawk operators, many of them are likely to follow the US Army’s lead as they seek replacements in the future.

“I am excited to be a part of this important day for our Army,” Douglas Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, said in a release. “Thoughtful and disciplined execution of the FLRAA program strategy will provide the transformative capabilities needed to support the joint force, strengthen deterrence, and win in multi-domain operations.”

In subsequent calls with reporters, several military officials provided additional details about the new agreement. In total, they said, the current deal is worth up to $1.3 billion with initial commitments worth $232 million over the next 19 months.

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Maj. Gen. Robert Barry, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, said the initial dollar figure would allow Bell to move forward with the initial design of the aircraft and deliver a “virtual prototype of a potential model-based system.”

“Initially zero aircraft are being procured,” the two-star general said. If the aircraft goes into production, however, the program could grow to $70 billion over its lifetime.

“This is an exciting time for the US Army, Bell and Team Valor as we modernize the Army’s aviation capabilities for decades to come,” Bell President and CEO Mitch Snyder said in a brief statement.

For the past several years, teams at Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing have been racing each other for high-profile contracts, producing prototypes of the future and logging flight hours. Army leaders were expected to announce the winner earlier this year but said they needed additional time to review the bids. Then on November 21, Bush told reporters that a decision would be announced by the end of the calendar year, saying the delay was only due to the necessary “quality control” and “due diligence” associated with a “such a large” contract.

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The service’s exact requirements for the aircraft are closely held, but allowed the companies to create two strikingly different designs: Bell’s tiltrotor Valor aircraft against Sikorsky-Boeing’s coaxial rotor Defiant X.

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Sikorsky’s Defiant X, its entry for the Army’s future long-range assault aircraft, is shown in flight. (Sikorsky)

It is unclear at this time whether opposition to the agreement will be filed, although given the magnitude of the FLRAA program, it would not be surprising. The protests could potentially delay the Army in its quest to field a new FLRAA fleet around 2030, but service leaders said today that they have factored potential protest delays into the schedule.

The Sikorsky-Boeing team did not say whether it would contest the decision but released a brief statement after the announcement.

“We are confident that the DEFIANT X is the transformative aircraft that the US Army needs to accomplish its critical missions today and into the future,” the team wrote in a statement. “We will assess our next steps after reviewing the feedback from the Army.”

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Over the weekend, Breaking Defense spoke at this year’s Reagan National Defense Forum. spoke with Rob Wittman, R-Va. Wittman, a contender to chair the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, said he believes the FLRAA concept is based on “sound” technology, but said he wants to make sure the range of aircraft is suitable for long distances in India. – Pacific region.

In that region, the tactical platform would be a connector and “the question is are there enough KC-46A’s, or whatever, to tank it in theater? We have to fly it in,” he said.

“I think before they make a final award, they really need to examine those operational elements of the aircraft and find out, does it work in all theaters, or does it only work in the European theater where… our has a lot of land. facilities,” Wittman explained. Putting a tanker in is a big deal [Indo-Pacific Command]And get it at FLRAA or [Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft] And refuel it,” he added later.

Aaron Mehta of Breaking Defense contributed to this report.



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