V-280 Valor: How the U.S. Army Might Have Learned from Its Mistakes and Built a Super Weapon

    Task and Purpose, Jared Keller

    Security, North America

    Could it be a game changer?

    After years in development, the future of vertical lift has finally arrived on the Army’s doorstep: Bell Helicopter’s advanced V-280 Valor tiltrotor prototype finally took its maiden flight at a test facility in Amarillo, Texas, the company announced on Dec. 18 — a major milestone for a next-gen aircraft designed to meld the tactical maneuverability of the branch’s current rotary fleet with the range and force projection of fixed-wing troop transports.

    Developed to replace the iconic AH-64 Apache attack chopper and UH-60 Black Hawk utility helo, the Valor boasts a top speed of 280 knots (hence, somewhat cheekily, the “V-280” designation) and a range of up to 800 nautical miles. That’s double the top speed and operational range of the tried-and-true Black Hawk. And with a troop capacity of 14 armed warfighters (plus a crew of 4) and load capacity of more than 12,000 pounds, the Valor can haul 23% more troops and 25% more cargo than the conventional utility helicopter, per Popular Mechanics.

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