Bell Textron has been selected for Phase 1B of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT) X-Plane program, according to a press release.

The SPRINT project aims to design, build, and fly an experimental aircraft (X-Plane) to demonstrate technologies and integrated concepts necessary for achieving a combination of aircraft speed and runway independence for the next generation of air mobility platforms.

During Phase 1A, Bell executed a conceptual design review and will now move into preliminary design efforts for the SPRINT X-plane.

“Bell is honoured to be selected for the next phase of this revolutionary program and ready to execute preliminary design,” said Jason Hurst, executive vice president of Engineering at Bell.

“We completed our initial risk reduction efforts with our sled test demonstration at Holloman Air Force Base, and we look forward to building on this success with our continued work with DARPA.”

In late 2023, Bell completed risk reduction testing at Holloman Air Force Base, showcasing technologies such as folding rotors, integrated propulsion, and flight control. Bell is leveraging its investment in High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) technology and its extensive experience with past X-plane projects to inform the development of the new X-plane for the SPRINT programme.

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Lisa has a degree in Media & Communication from Glasgow Caledonian University and works with industry news, sifting through press releases in addition to moderating website comments.
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FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_823302)
1 month ago

Research on a possible successor to Bell V-280 Valor already? 🤔

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_823304)
1 month ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Hmmm…wonder whether this abiding interest in tiltrotor tech may be indicative of an expanding USA/USMC requirement, in a particular theater, to rapidly transport men and materiel between unimproved airstrips, hundreds of kilometers apart? 🤔😉 Uncle Sugar is doing his part in readying a warm/hot reception for the scum sucking, slimeball ChiComs. Question of the day: Is anyone else?

Jon
Jon (@guest_823320)
1 month ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

This isn’t a basic tiltrotor. It has three stages from lift off, the first two like the tiltrotor. However, it will then transition from tiltrotor horizontal to jet propulsion, with the rotors folding back and locking out of the way during flight.

DP
DP (@guest_823329)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

The rendering appears to show a fuselage with the capacity to house a flight refueling tank/AEW RADAR and relevant crew but will it have the endurance and altitude capability for the latter and will it be an expensive offering, as I understand existing tilt-rotor models are? If it has folding rotors then that sounds like an expensive development cost. Just thinking tilt-rotor is probably the alternative to Ark Royal project related cats & traps.

Jon
Jon (@guest_823330)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

I wouldn’t read too much into the pictures. I don’t think it’s even a tech demonstrator yet and it’s far too early to say what this will be capable of. They were testing the folding rotors on a railbound test-rig at the end of last year, which you can see the vids of on You Tube. The advantage this could have over standard tiltrotors will be (potentially in subsequent versions) high subsonic speeds. Rather than AEW, I’m thinking loyal wingman (okay, I know, I only just said it’s too early to speculate). If it happens at all, it’ll be the… Read more »

Coll
Coll (@guest_823380)
1 month ago
Reply to  DP

It will be helpful for replenishment of important items.

Coll
Coll (@guest_823396)
1 month ago
Reply to  Coll

Should added for Aircraft Carriers.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_823361)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Intriguing concept. 🤔🤞

Jim
Jim (@guest_823399)
1 month ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

I think it’s a realisation that Ford Class is the Yamato of the 21st century and the USMC and the gator navy is the future of US power projection. Now we can make a 5th gen fighter hover all they need is a AWACS and AAR drone capability.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_823598)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Gator Navy, w/ associated air assets, will undoubtedly supplement deployment of CVNs in any coordinated campaign undertaken in SCS. Carrier battle groups will either prove to be largely invulnerable to ChiCom A2/AD, or become the next step on the escalatory ladder. There may be no more than one, or possibly two, additional rung(s) on the ladder. Xi intends to have PLA capable of rattling/tipping ladder by 2027. Near term future could prove to be be quite interesting/sporting. 🤔😳

Iain
Iain (@guest_823318)
1 month ago

Is it me or does that have distinct cargo aircraft vibes with its shape? COD Drone?

Richard Sweeting
Richard Sweeting (@guest_823331)
1 month ago

Hopefully someone in the Admiralty is looking at this

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_823365)
1 month ago

“runway independence” Is necessary for every air combatant. Not just mobility ones.

Coll
Coll (@guest_823382)
1 month ago

Does anybody know if the payload weight is known?

Last edited 1 month ago by Coll
Jon
Jon (@guest_823391)
1 month ago

Given that there were two projects taken forward by DARPA, I wonder why only Bell’s caught Lisa’s eye. The other, Aurora’s project, used to be partnered with Rolls Royce Liberty Works, and looks supeficially more like the F-35B concept with ducted lift fans that are exposed on take off and landing but are covered over in horizontal flight.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_823470)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Aurora was featured somewhere last week, perhaps it was on New Atlas rather than here so yes wonder why both were not mentioned above.