Apache and Black Hawk helicopters will soon be replaced by the US Army
The US military has made the biggest decision for its helicopters in the last 40 years.
The Army has chosen Bell Textron as a partner to produce a new generation of attack and support helicopters, with a design drastically different from the Apache and Black Hawk models.
Bell’s V-280 Valor helicopter should enter service around 2030 and replace its predecessors, which have been in production since the 1970s. The contract will be worth up to $1.3 billion if all options are implemented and will replace 1,200 Apache helicopters and 2,000 Black Hawk helicopters.
Bell Textron could ultimately earn about $70 billion over the next few decades if it sells a “full complement” of new helicopters over the life of the program, including export sales. The company beat competition from the combined Boeing and Sikorsky (Lockheed Martin) companies.
Unlike the traditional Apache, which has a large front rotor and a long tail section, the V-280 has rotating rotors and engines at opposite ends of the large front wing, allowing it to take off vertically like a helicopter, but also fly horizontally like an airplane. Its V-shaped tail lacks a rotor and looks more like the back of a fighter jet. The design is similar to the V-22 Osprey helicopter, which has long been used by the US Air Force and Marine Corps.
Also, the V-280 is twice as fast and has twice the range of the Apache and Black Hawk helicopters. It is designed to fly at a speed of 518 km/h, while its combat range is up to 1,480 km. The first prototype will enter into service by 2025.
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