Bell Helicopter announced Monday a successful engine test of its V-280 Valor prototype aircraft, which it will pit against a new helicopter from Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft, parent Lockheed Martin and Boeing in the Pentagon’s Future Vertical Lift competition.
Bell, a subsidiary of Providence, R.I.-based Textron, is undergoing ground testing of the V-280 in Amarillo, Texas, in advance of flight tests promised for this fall. The aircraft is designed with tilt-rotor technology Bell pioneered with its V-22 Osprey aircraft in partnership with Boeing, allowing the V-280 to take off vertically like a helicopter before wing-mounted rotor sets swivel to allow it to fly forward like a turboprop airplane.
Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin and Boeing are partnering on the SB-1 Defiant, designed with tandem rotor sets for vertical takeoff and hovering capabilities, and a “pusher prop” to achieve faster speeds than conventional helicopters. Sikorsky is aiming to begin flight tests next spring heading into a “fly off” to determine a common platform for future U.S. Department of Defense aircraft, expected to result in billions of dollars in future contracts.