Bell Textron says it has been awarded a contract to advance to the next phase of the AFWERX High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing (HSVTOL) concept challenge that aims to provide a solution for operations in austere environments.
The challenge is a crowdsourcing effort for the United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), with Bell being one of 11 companies from more than 200 challenge entrants selected to receive market research investments for further work.
“Bell is thrilled that our HSVTOL concepts have been selected for the next phase of the US Air Force’s AFWERX Challenge,” said Jason Hurst, Bell’s vice president of innovation. “In entering this next phase, Bell’s teams will continue to lay the groundwork for the production of another revolutionary military aircraft and provide USSOCOM and the US Air Force with conceptual designs and development roadmaps to accelerate this capability to the warfighter.”
Bell’s HSVTOL vehicles blend the hover capability of a helicopter with the speed, range and survivability features of fighter aircraft. The company has designed a family of scalable aircraft concepts that can support a range of missions, including personnel recovery, autonomous ISR/Strike, and tactical mobility, with low downwash hover capability and jet-like speeds of more than 400 kts.
HSVTOL concepts are expected to provide the flexibility to carry out USAF and USSOCOM missions across the full spectrum of conflict and political scenarios.
“The HSVTOL concept challenge has surfaced an impressive range and caliber of solutions to help us understand how to build a new class of air vehicles,” said Dr. Reid Melville, chief innovation officer, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Transformational Capabilities Office. “We believe the organizations selected to receive market research investments at this stage have the potential to deliver truly groundbreaking innovation.”
Over the next six months, Bell will further develop its solution, working closely with the USAF, USSOCOM, and Collaboration.Ai, the prime contractor facilitating the HSVTOL concept challenge.