- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The possible successor to the U.S. military’s iconic Blackhawk helicopter was unveiled Tuesday at the Farnborough International Airshow.

Bell Helicopter gave attendees an up-close look at the V-280 Valor, which is part of the Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program for assessing next-generation aircraft capabilities. Bell teamed up with Lockheed Martin to produce the aircraft’s advanced tiltrotor systems.

“Any country with a UH-60 or an H-1 down the road would want this kind of speed and range capability,” Steve Mathias, Bell’s director global business development, told Aviation Week. “Because of the expeditionary [nature of combat], everyone needs the time to react. You need this kind of speed and range. So there will be, I believe, a great deal of interest.”

The V-280 Valor boasts a cruising speed of 280 KTAS — twice that of current platforms — a combat range of 500-800 nautical miles, and can carry up to 14 troops.

Mr. Mathias said the price of the helicopter will be about $20 million due to advances in tiltrotor technology.

“If you were a tailor and I came to you and said ‘build me a suit, here’s a big ball of thread, and build me a suit out of that,’ or if I came to you and said ‘here’s some cloth and said build me a suit out of that,’ it’s going to be much quicker and cheaper to build out of cloth,” Mr. Mathias said.

Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing are producing a second option for the Pentagon to consider, the SB-1 Defiant. The U.S. military plans to start purchasing the superior product by the 2030s.

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