Bell V-280 Valor Joint Multi-Role Demonstrator

Somebody’s finally doing something tangible about the future of Army aviation. Bell Helicopter subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems of Wichita, Kan., has started assembling the composite fuselage for the first prototype V-280 Valor, Bell’s new military tiltrotor. The Valor is sleeker, smaller, and, by design, more Army-friendly than the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, which was built to fit… Keep reading →

AUSA: Visitors to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.’s display at this year’s Association of the United States Army meetings in Washington can hardly miss an eye-popping marketing video the company is showing. Running on a huge flat screen hung at the entrance to the company’s spot on the show floor, the video uses simulation imagery of XBox quality to show how Sikorsky’s conceptual S-97 Raider – a compound helicopter based on the X2 Technology Demonstrator the company flew in 2010-2011 – would perform Armed Aerial Scout missions for the Army.

It’s a great show. Zooming through canyons at what looks like the S-97’s projected cruising speed of 220 knots – an impossibility for ordinary helicopters – a Raider in a formation of five uses a video downlink from a Predator drone to take out a group of heavily armed insurgents with laser-guided rockets, firing before the enemy can hear the helicopters coming. Then, at the request of ground troops, another Raider uses its mini-gun to kill six insurgents hiding in a tree line. Keep reading →

MANASSAS, Va: Buzzing a runway in 200-knot low-level passes and steep, nose-up climbs, Eurocopter’s silver X3 hybrid helicopter looked like something out of a James Bond movie as it performed for the media in late July. The X3 (pronounced “X-cubed”) stopped off at Manassas Regional Airport as part of a U.S. tour that ended last Thursday at the Pentagon, where Eurocopter hopes to sell several types of helicopters based on its sleek new technology demonstrator.

“I see a bright future inside the military,” said Steve Mundt, vice president for business development for Eurocopter parent EADS North America and a retired brigadier general who once ran the Army’s aviation branch. Keep reading →