American aerospace manufacturer Bell Textron has introduced two helicopter prototypes to the US Army in its replacement contract bid for the iconic Black Hawks.
Known for state-of-the-art aircraft such as the UH-1H Iroquois, the company seeks to develop futuristic helicopters for the service through the Vertical Lift Program. It has submitted helicopter prototypes of the Valor and the Invictus for the competition.
Bell official Mike Simmons explained that the Bell 360 Invictus features advanced capabilities to support challenging missions. He explained that, although the vehicle is not an Apache, it functions as an armed reconnaissance aircraft.
Meanwhile, the V2-Valor prototype that Bell presented to the US Army offers improved speed, range, payload capacity, and overall surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The company describes the aircraft as a “game-changer” due to its new technologies.
Bell has been operating its V280 valor prototype for four years already, recording more than 555 kilometers (344 miles) per hour and doubling the top speed of the US Black Hawks.
The Black Hawk
The US Army currently operates two types of Black Hawk helicopters: the UH-60 and the S-70A. Manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, the UH-60 Black Hawk is designed to survive small arms fire and medium-caliber projectiles.
It carries 11 combat troops and a crew of three, including a pilot, co-pilot, and crew chief. With a maximum speed of 277 kilometers (172 miles) per hour, the helicopter can travel up to 320 nautical miles (368 miles).
Meanwhile, the S-70A Black Hawk helicopter is equipped with two General Electric turboshaft engines, allowing it to travel at a speed of over 250 kilometers (155 miles) per hour. It can also carry up to 9,000 pounds (4,072 kilograms) of payload.
The aircraft features a voice and data communications suite, which includes an identification friend or foe transponder, satellite communications system, secure voice communications, and an intercom system.