Bell Textron, Sikorsky-Boeing Win Contracts to Develop FLRAA’s Major Subsystems, Weapons

  • Our Bureau
  • 04:32 AM, March 31, 2021
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Bell Textron, Sikorsky-Boeing Win Contracts to Develop FLRAA’s Major Subsystems, Weapons
SB-1 Defiant (above) and V-280 Valor (below)

The U.S. Army has awarded Bell Textron and Sikorsky-Boeing team approximately $290 million to accelerate development of major subsystems and weapons that would go on their Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FRLAA).

On March 30, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) Phase II contracts to both the teams. It requires the competitors to develop major subsystems and conceptual weapon systems in parallel with their work on the large aircraft.

While Bell Textron received $293 million, Sikorsky-Boeing team received $284 million.

This January, the latter released details of its new helicopter offering- dubbed the Defiant X- for the Army’s FLRAA contest. DEFIANT X is a complete weapon system that builds on the handling qualities and transformational capabilities proven by the team's technology demonstrator, SB>1 DEFIANT. It will enable crews to fly low and fast through complex terrain, land quickly, deliver Soldiers and equipment to the objective area (referred to as "the X") and get out.

DEFIANT X flies twice as far and fast as the venerable Black Hawk helicopter it is designed to replace.

With its rigid coaxial rotor system and pusher propeller, DEFIANT X incorporates Sikorsky X2 Technology to operate at high speeds while maintaining low-speed handling qualities.

Compared to SB>1 DEFIANT, the DEFIANT X airframe has enhancements to improve aerodynamics and reduce the thermal signature. Additionally, the company’s new offering includes tricycle landing gear to improve stability and taxiing in austere environments; and increased maneuverability through flight controls integrated with autonomy capabilities.

Bell Textron team has also built an aircraft, the V-280 Valor, for the Army contest. The V-280’s latest flight statistics includes forward flight at 280 knots true airspeed, over 85 hours of flight and 180 rotor turn hours, in-flight transitions between cruise mode and vertical take-off and landing, 45-degree banked turns at 200 knots indicated airspeed, 4500 feet per minute rate of climb and sustained flight at 11,500 feet altitude, single flight ferry of over 370 miles, and fly-by-wire controls.

The Army is expected to release a request for proposal on FLRAA later this year, with a contract award expected in 2022.

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