Bell Helicopter has announced that its V-280 Valor has achieved first flight.

“This is an exciting time for Bell Helicopter, and I could not be more proud of the progress we have made with first flight of the Bell V-280,” says Mitch Snyder, President & CEO for Bell Helicopter.

“First flight demonstrates our commitment to supporting Department of Defense leadership’s modernisation priorities and acquisition reform initiatives. The Valor is designed to revolutionise vertical lift for the U.S. Army and represents a transformational aircraft for all the challenging missions our armed forces are asked to undertake.

We are thrilled to share in this success of the V-280 first flight with Team Valor. The V-280 intends to completely transform what is possible for the military when it comes to battle planning and forward operations.”

The V-280 is reported to be designed for a cruising speed of 280 knots a top speed of 300 knots, a range of 2,100 nautical miles and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi. Expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 lb say Bell.

In one major difference from the earlier V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the engines remain in place while the rotors and drive shafts tilt. A driveshaft runs through the straight wing, allowing both prop rotors to be driven by a single engine in the event of engine loss.

The V-280 will have a crew of 4 and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Dual cargo hooks will give it a lift capacity to carry a 10,000 lb M777A2 Howitzer while flying at a speed of 150 knots.


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This looks like it could be a game changer and it would be good if the UK got in on the ground floor and placed an order on the proviso we then become the sole European partner for build and maintenance.

Its a few years away yet – but needs to be planned for now.


Pacman wrote:
“This looks like it could be a game changer and it would be good if the UK got in on the ground floor and placed an order on the proviso we then become the sole European partner for build and maintenance.”

Whilst it looks promising, I feel the US will go with the other contender for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The Sb 1 defiant helicopter

David Steeper

Pacman27 Yeah maybe if we did that we’d get as good a deal as we have with the F35 !

Geoffrey Roach

If you look at the detail there is nothing wrong with the deal at all.


Would’nt these be a more capable AEW platform & COD for our STVOL carriers than Merlins?


I don’t think they have near the same cargo capacity, as a Merlin does. AEW though not a bad idea for the future.

Daniele Mandelli

Such a low number of troops carried?

More suited to other roles then.

I worry about a QEC being used so close to shore in amphibious role, despite its potential for sheer numbers of helicopters used for a single lift.

I thought aircraft such as this could have longer range allowing the ship to stay beyond range but with such low numbers carried might not be feasable?

Geoffrey Roach

Hi Daniele…it is odd. Presumably something to do with the re engineering. I’m
pretty sure that the Osprey will take twenty plus personnel but even then not as many as a Merlin and nowhere near a Chinook but it does have decent speed and range.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes. I don’t think either are within our range unless a small purchase.


As with everything there are trade offs involved. Less weight and troop numbers than osprey – but greater range, speed and lower support costs.

Would be great if this could deliver a platoon of 16-18 in one go, but surely this is a step forward and an affordable at that.

David Steeper

A platoon is 24-30 so it would need 2 aircraft or 2 trips. Osprey and Merlin only need 1.

John Clark

People do bemoan the fact that the RN will only have support 25 Merlins, but they do have significant range and lift.

5 Merlins could move an entire Company of RM’s also, the first fully maritime converted junglie has now emerged complete with refueling probe and bristling with defensive Systems!

A very smart looking Helicopter indeed that might be a sign of Carrier borne AAR is really being actively considered.

It will also make a superb CSR/Special Forces asset.


It has to be said that the Merlin is a brilliant helicopter at a very competitive price point (circa £25m each). I do like them and believe the UK should have a bigger fleet.

But there is no denying that the future is in the Valor/Osprey models, as they provide greater height and range.

Will be interesting to see how this develops – but once it gets to similar size and lift capability of a Merlin I think the days of the helicopter as we know it are over.


The main problem is those 25 have a rather large number of tasks to cover, should a naval conflict arise. they need to be providing an anti sub net around whatever the frigate they are assigned to, is escorting, they need to provide a radar dome over the carriers / support ships and they need to be ferrying troops. Even if all 25 were available and not in maintenance, it doesn’t sound like anywhere near enough.


What i am not entirely sure on is whether the 25 includes or excludes the ones that were moved from the RAF.

John Clark

Its 30 Anti Submarine/Surface/AEW /COD and 25 Junglies for RM transport duties.

That will probably break down to a front line force of 22 and 18.

I am sure the HC4 will be used in the COD and ship to ship logistics roll to, thus taking some of the strain from the HM2’s.

I guess with the loss of Ocean, both Carriers will have an embarked Junglie detachment at all times.

Mr Bell

Ocean has not gone yet. I am still hopeful even at this late hour that the government penny pinching buffoons will not sell her off until 2020-2021 to allow a purpose built replacement to be built. Something like the coming Italian Trieste class or Australian Canberra class. The merlin fleet could do with expanding a little especially the ASW version. However the biggest ASW threat to the fleet is the lack of SSNs and frigate numbers. There are some glaring holes in our national defences which only a ruthless focus on efficiency, cutting waste, excellence in procurement and project management… Read more »


Ocean has gone, no point hoping otherwise. Brazil wouldn’t’ have come out stating they had an intention to buy, without a signed letter of intent between the two countries. I suspect the fall details are not confirmed yet, but its gone.


My biggest concern is whether we will have enough crowsnests to ensure 24/7 coverage, over a period of weeks or months, which would be required to utilise the carriers in any conflict where the opposition has any form of air force itself. If the opposition doesn’t have an air force or navy, then the carriers really are expensive media stories, since land based air fields will always be available for anti-insurgency operations and if we have to rely on US carrier based AEW (which can’t operate on the QE), then again we don’t need our carrier since the US will… Read more »

John Clark

I would imagine if a QE class task group was in for the long haul on an operation lasting months ( a stretch of logistics I think), it would have 12 Merlin’s on board and 4-5 Crows Nest Systems.

One deployment would effectively take most of the active HM2 fleet!

David Branney

You must remember that this aircraft has been designed to replace the UH60 Blackhawk. There is a competition to design a high speed replacement for the Chinook and CH53 Sea Stallion for heavy lift, but that is some years away. The Osprey was designed to replace the CH46 Sea Knight (baby Chinook). As such it can carry no more than 20 pax seated. It has the same realistic lifting capacity as a Merlin, which is significantly less than a Chinook. However it has range, speed, height and not to mention smoothness advantages over a helicopter. From the pictures I’ve seen… Read more »

David Branney

Should read ASW not ADS – doh!


Actually, the V-280 and the SB-1 are comparable in speed. V-280 – 280kts. SB-1 – 287 kts. The competition between these two different concepts will be fascinating to watch.
There is also a possibility that the winning design will be the follow on to the Apache.