Textron teamed with Boeing to build the Army's V-22 Osprey airplane/helicopter hybrid -- the first mass-produced tiltrotor in modern times. But on Monday, Textron revealed that it may have decided to change dance partners. Lockheed Martin is becoming "the first of Bell Helicopter's V-280 program tier one team members." Boeing may or may not win a place on the team later, because Textron says "additional team members will be announced in the coming months."
Developed as Textron's offering for the Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) vehicle program, and in particular for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) vehicle program that FVL will build upon, the TextronV-280 "Valor" is described as a third-generation tiltrotor aircraft offering the Army "unparalleled speed, range and agility." It may be the first step toward replacing current-generation helicopters such as the Kiowa scout helicopter, Black Hawk transport helo, Apache attack helo, Chinook cargo helicopter -- and may potentially take over roles now fulfilled by full-sized cargo aircraft such as the C-130J Super Hercules airplane.
In comparison to the Army's standard Black Hawk today, Textron says the V-280 will boast twice the range, and twice the speed of the helo it's designed to replace.