Home Americas US Army picks Bell to build its new FLRAA assault helicopter

US Army picks Bell to build its new FLRAA assault helicopter

Bell V-280 Valor US Army FLRAA
Photo: Bell

The US Army has selected Bell Textron as the preferred contractor for its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.

The Army initiated the FLRAA program in 2019 as part of its Future Vertical Lift initiative to replace a portion of its assault and utility helicopter fleet. The FLRAA is intended to eventually replace the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, which has been in service for more than four decades.

The service chose Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft over the Defiant X coaxial rotor solution pitched by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, and Boeing.

The initial contract is worth up to $1.3 billion, while the low-rate production phase is estimated at around $7 billion. The US Army expects its Combat Aviation Brigades to field the V-280 Valor in 2030.

“I am excited to be part of this momentous day for our Army,” said Mr. Doug Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. “The thoughtful and disciplined execution of the FLRAA program strategy will deliver the transformational capabilities we need to support the Joint force, strengthen deterrence and win in multi-domain operations.”

Bell says its V-280 design has more than three years of flight test supported by 650 thousand hours of tiltrotor experience, thanks to the V-22 Osprey aircraft in service with the US Navy and Air Force. The V-280 design has been developed and tested by the company as part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program that began in 2013.

“This down-select represents a strategic pivot for Army Aviation to the transformational speed and range our Army needs to dominate future battlefields,” said Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team. “The prototyping and risk-reduction efforts allowed the Army to significantly reduce the time needed to get to today’s announcement.”

Photo: Bell

FLRAA will expand the depth of the battlefield by extending the reach of air assault missions and enabling ground forces to converge through decentralized operations at extended distances. FLRAA’s inherent reach and standoff capabilities will ensure mission success through tactical maneuver at operational and strategic distances.

FLRAA is a key capability within the FVL ecosystem and FVL is one of the Army’s top six modernization efforts. It will enable multi-domain operations, fly further and faster than existing aircraft, and provide air assault and MEDEVAC support to the maneuver force in a contested and ever-changing environment.

“I am very proud of the entire team and our aviation enterprise partners,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Barrie, Program Executive Officer, Aviation. “They’ve worked diligently to ensure that the Army delivers a new, vertical lift capability that meets its modernization objectives.”

“Our ability to support this critical Army aviation modernization program is a testament to the outstanding commitment and capabilities of our contracting professionals across the acquisition workforce,” said Joseph Giunta Jr., senior contracting official for Army Contracting Command-Redstone Arsenal. “The FLRAA award reinforces our ability to maximize the spectrum of authorities available in our contracting tool kit to meet high-priority Army needs.”