U.S. Army Selects Bell and Sikorsky/Boeing to Build Prototypes for Next Generation Helicopter Program

October 3, 2014 5:33 PM
SB-1 Defiant. Boeing Photo
SB-1 Defiant. Boeing Photo

The U.S. Army has picked designs from Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky/Boeing team to continue development of Joint Multi-Role (JMR) high-speed rotorcraft designs.

“These teams will build technology demonstration (TD) aircraft with flight tests starting in 2017,” the Army said in a statement released to USNI News on Friday.

The two prototype aircraft will be built and flown as part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator Air Vehicle effort—which will inform the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to replace the long-serving Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Boeing AH-64E Apache.

The FVL program will also inform the US Navy’s MH-XX program to replace the MH-60 Seahawk.

“The intent of the JMR TD effort is to maximize the knowledge gain and risk reduction toward an anticipated Future Vertical Lift acquisition program,” said Dan Bailey, the Army’s JMR/FVL program director.
“The baseline strategy based on the current funding allocation requires descope from the four initial designs to two for build and flight test.”

Bell-V2280. Bell Image
Bell-V2280. Bell Image

Two other teams led by Karem Aircraft and AVX Aircraft were not selected for continued development, but the service is still interested in their technologies.
“The Army will seek to continue technology development efforts with those teams based on resources and opportunities,” the service said.

The Sikorsky-Boeing entry, called the SB-1 Defiant, is a compound helicopter design with co-axial rotors and a pusher-propeller. The aircraft is based on Sikorsky’s revolutionary X-2 design that was designed to overcome the 200-knot speed limit of most helicopters as a result of a phenomenon called the dissymmetry of lift.

The Bell Helicopter design, which is called the V-280 Valor, is an advanced tilt-rotor design that is based upon technology similar to the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey. The new tilt-rotor is smaller, faster and much more maneuverable than the Osprey and has a top speed of over 300 knots.

The rejected AVX design was a compound helicopter design similar to the Defiant. Meanwhile, the rejected Karem proposal was a variable-speed tilt-rotor similar to the Bell entry.

Dave Majumdar

Dave Majumdar

Dave Majumdar has been covering defense since 2004. He has written for Flight International, Defense News and C4ISR Journal. Majumdar studied Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and is a student of naval history.

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