FARNBOROUGH—As part of an effort to market its new tiltrotor technology to potential foreign customers, Bell Helicopter unveiled a full-size mockup of its V-280 Valor on the first day of the Farnborough International Airshow July 11.                                                                       

Bell is partnered with Lockheed Martin on a rotorcraft flight demonstrator for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) program, designed to gauge the art of the possible for the next-generation of vertical lift capabilities. JMR is the precursor to the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, a Pentagon effort to buy a new, state-of-the-art family of helicopters in the 2030s.

The V-280 builds on the tiltrotor technology of the Bell-Boeing V-22, used by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, and will fly twice the range at double the speed of existing helicopters, Steve Mathias, Bell’s director global business development for advanced tiltrotor systems, told Aviation Week in front of the full-size mockup here.

Due to the increasingly expeditionary nature of warfare today, Bell is seeing a lot of interest from abroad on medium-lift FVL, Mathias said.

“Any country with a UH-60 or an H-1 down the road would want this kind of speed and range capability,” Mathias said. “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.”

Bell has seen interest from militaries that already fly UH-60 Black Hawks and H-1 attack and utility helicopters, particularly Australia, and NATO allies such as Canada and the U.K., Mathias said.

Despite the $70 million price tag of the V-22, Mathias believes the V-280 will be significantly cheaper than its predecessor because of major advances in tiltrotor technology. For example, the V-280 is equipped with a straight wing, which takes about 50% less time and money to build than the V-22’s swept wing. “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,” Mathias said.

In another major difference between the two tiltrotors, the Valor’s engines remain in place for transition to forward-flying position, while the rotors and drive shafts tilt. Unlike the Osprey, the V-280 will have a forward-firing capability, and will incorporate an advanced glass cockpit that uses technology similar to the F-35’s.

Mathias estimates Valor will be comparable to a UH-60 in terms of price, or about $20 million.

The aircraft gets its name from its anticipated cruise speed of 280 kt., and has an estimated 500-800 nm combat range, Mathias said. V-280 will be able to self-deploy with internal fuel tanks for a 2,100 nm range with two stops to gas up, and is capable of aerial refueling. This capability makes it much easier for the armed forces to strategically deploy and quickly respond to threats all over the world, he stressed.

Bell and Lockheed are 60% finished with the build, and the Valor will fly for the first time in September 2017 as part of the JMR tech demonstrator program, Mathias said.

FVL will eventually replace the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook and OH-58 Kiowa aircraft. The U.S. Navy will likely join as the service retires its aging MH-60 SeaHawks, as well as the U.S. Marine CorpsUH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters.

Boeing and Sikorsky’s coaxial helicopter, the SB-1 Defiant, is also competing as part of the JMR program.