Bell, Leonardo Team Up for NATO’s New Medium Lift Helicopter Program

Bell Textron and Leonardo have announced a partnership to strengthen their bid for NATO’s new medium lift helicopter program.

The two aviation giants are among a number of companies responding to a request for proposals (RFP) to deliver a next-generation rotorcraft capability (NGRC) to the military alliance.

A Bell spokesperson told Breaking Defense that their concept study could begin as early as July should their partnership be awarded one of the up to three NGRC contracts.

The spokesperson also said Leonardo will take the lead on the tiltrotor architecture proposal while Bell Textron will provide support.

The two companies will leverage their experience in building tiltrotor platforms, such as the AW609 and the V-280 Valor helicopter selected by the US Army for its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.


The concept study contract worth 5.7 million euros ($6.2 million) will help NATO find the best solution for its new medium helicopter to carry out various missions.

It will replace aging medium-lift platforms currently in service with the alliance, including the AgustaWestland AW101.

The NGRC initiative specifies that the tiltrotor solution should cost no more than 35 million euros ($38.2 million) and be available to enter service between 2035 and 2040.

NATO also wants the cost-per-flight hour to be no greater than 10,000 euros ($10,920) and the optimal cruise speed to be at least 220 knots (407 kilometers/254 miles per hour).

Additional requirements include an unrefueled range of 1,650 kilometers (1,025 miles), the ability to carry up to 16 fully-equipped troops, and a loading capacity of more than 4,000 kilograms (8,818 pounds).

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