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Bell V280 aces autonomous flight demo

US Army FLRAA contender
Bell file photo of the V280 tiltrotor aircraft

The Bell Textron-developed V280 tiltrotor aircraft showcased its autonomous flight capabilities during a flight demo in Arlington, Texas.

The demonstration was attended by US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas).

V280 is part of the US Army’s Joint-Multi-Role. Technology. Demonstrator (JMR TD), a program designed to demonstrate the service’s future vertical lift fleet.

The aircraft has had two years of flight demonstrations, according to Bell, and has flown over 150 hours through multi-sortie test days and public demonstrations to deliver data and inform requirements for the US Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.

In 2019, Team Valor and the V-280 program verified that the aircraft can reach a speed of over 300 kts, tested the hover out of ground effect (HOGE) at over 6,000 feet altitude at 95º F, and low speed agility to meet the Army’s level 1 handling qualities requirements.

Additionally, the V-280 has integrated the Lockheed Martin Pilotage Distributed Aperture System (PDAS) mission equipment package and has flown operationally focused tests showing fast rope deployment options.

Another aircraft flying as part of the JMR-TD demonstration is the SB-1 Defiant, developed by a Sikorsky-Boeing team.

An FLRAA aircraft is expected to be selected by the US Army by fiscal year 2030.