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Bell Textron’s V-280 Valor to replace US Army Blackhawks

The US Army has selected the Bell Textron V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft to replace its four decade-old UH-60 Blackhawks under the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. Over its production life the contract could be worth up to US$40 billion.

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 two shortlisted contenders for the FLRAA were Bell Textron Inc and a Sikorsky-Boeing team.

The V-280 is claimed to have more than twice the speed and range of the current US Army air mobility fleet. It 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 distance, says the US Army. FLRAA’s inherent reach and standoff capabilities will ensure mission success through tactical maneuver at operational and strategic distances.

The Australian Army has just ordered the UH-60M variant of the Blackhawk to replace its MRH-90 aircraft and is considered an eventual, potential purchaser of the V-280.

“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,” said Mr. Doug Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology.

“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.”

“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.”

By implementing reform initiatives granted by Congress that were designed to streamline the acquisition process, this contract will deliver virtual prototypes that can be updated quickly and affordably. These virtual prototypes will directly support design, integration, training and developmental test activities.

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