TEXTRON’S NEW TOYS

Bell’s V-280 Valor mockup is ready for the “petting zoo.” Good luck against Sikorsky’s rear pusher & coaxial rotor concept guys. I think Congress has had enough of the tiltrotor after literally half a century of development. Also, it must be worth noting that this aircraft has a larger footprint than the Blackhawk (primarily) it intends to replace. Sometimes landing zones can be very tight, especially when their location is dictated by the enemy. The Blackhawk, although dated, is a pretty tight platform, which on numerous occasions was an absolute necessity when it came to saving lives and/or getting the mission done. If the Army wanted a tilt rotor very badly why wouldn’t they just buy the one currently in production? Conversely, if this machine offers a more flexible set of mission capabilities, and at a lower cost than its predecessor, maybe the Marines should halt their Osprey splurge and check out the new model that may be hitting showroom floors in the not so distant future. Personally, I think the tiltrotor’s time has come and gone. It is a great niche capability to have in smaller numbers, but building a whole combat doctrine around them just seems like a massive waste of resources. I get it, sometimes you need speed and range, but more than not you don’t need that great of speed or that much range, so why spend three times more on an all 100% solution when that extra 10% or 20% of capability could be available to you in adequate numbers while the rest of the missions can be accomplished by a simple S-70 Knighthawk? Once again, capability, rationality and the reality of a shrinking defense budget will get these one-size-fits-all gold plated solutions in check as commanders and the civilian leadership in the Pentagon are going to have to start answering for rapidly dwindling end-strength while at the same time procuring a ridiculously small and incredibly expensive all-silver bullet force. A little more on this topic can be found here, including another one of Bell’s promotional videos which was pretty much so dumb it was embarrassing: http://aviationintel.com/update-bell-introduces-the-v-280-valor/

Cessna Scorpion light air support and surveillance jet is already doing engine runs! Hey guys how about you get 150 of these things to Afghanistan like 6 years ago! More on the DoD’s huge  mismanagement of tactical aircraft resources during the occupation of Afghanistan, and that country’s dire need for organic close air support and surveillance assets, can be found in this thread of posts: http://aviationintel.com/category/light-air-support-contract-afghanistan/

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2 Responses to TEXTRON’S NEW TOYS

  1. CharleyA says:

    Boeing / Sikorsky’s compound / coaxial helo is the way to go IF they can keep unit costs comparatively low. These helps have roughly the same footprint of a 60 but much faster, and certainly more maneuverable than either a conventional help or tilt rotor. Plus weaponizing them is much easier than tilt rotors whose huge prop rotor discs obstruct forward firing weapons. The AAS version is estimated (by the manufacturer) to be $15M, the somewhat larger utility version doesn’t have a price tag yet. but it should be 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost of a tilt rotor, considering that MV-22s incremental cost is about $65M each in series production under a MYP contract.

  2. aerodawg says:

    The marines won’t pick up this TR because it doesn’t meet their requirements to operate off their amphibious assault ships. 90%+ of the problems associated with the V-22 stem either directly or indirectly from that requirement, from dimensional constraints of the aircraft to the requirement that it do the origami foldup so it can be stored in the same footprint of a CH-46 and everything in between. There’s a significant amount of cost devoted to solving those issues.

    As an aero-engineer with some limited experience in rotorcraft, IMHO I think the Bell tilt rotor is going to be a strong contender in the competition. The lack of the above mentioned constraints, especially operating overland instead of off of ships, combined with what they’ve learned on the V-22 should allow for a high degree of design optimization that was not available to the V-22. I expect to see a signficantly lighter structure and much better rotor system for the V-280.

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