Bell V-280 Valor entered a new phase of development. On May 11, 2018, the hybrid aircraft has tilted its rotors horizontally for the first time. It then proceeded to several flight tests over Bell’s Amarillo site in Texas, United States.

 

During this first horizontal test, the V-280 Valor reached a cruise speed of 350km/h. It should reach its top speed of 520km/h (280 knots, hence its name) in the coming months.

The tiltrotor was designed as a replacement for the UH-60 Blackhawk that will celebrate its 40th year of service in the U.S. army in 2019. It can carry up to 14 troops, half of what the other tiltrotor of the U.S. Army, the Bell MV-22 Osprey, can carry. However, Bell stated that the unit price for the Valor would be a third of the Osprey’s. Another difference between the two aircraft is that the V-280 only tilts its rotors, the engines remaining in a fixed position. This should preserve the landing pads, compared to the MV-22 whose full engine block are rotating on an axis. The Valor can also use only one of its engines to power both rotors, a huge advantage in case of an engine failure.

Eventually, the V-280 could be used as an attack vehicle if the program is successful. But that could take a while, as first deliveries are not expected before 2030.