Bell Secures Aircraft Contract Worth Billions


U.S. Black Hawk helicopters fly as NATO allied troops carry out Swift Response 22 exercises during a media open day at Krivolak army base, North Macedonia, May 12, 2022. | Image by REUTERS, Ognen Teofilovski, File Photo

A North Texas aerospace manufacturer is flying high after receiving the largest military helicopter contract in 40 years.

The U.S. Army announced on Monday it had awarded a contract to Bell Textron Inc., based in Fort Worth, to replace its aging Black Hawk helicopter fleet with the next-generation tilt-rotor aircraft, V-280 Valor.

Bell’s model beat entrants from two other major aerospace manufacturers, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, in competition for the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.

The Army’s goal for the FLRAA program was to develop aircraft with the ability to fly roughly 2,440 nautical miles (2,810 miles) without refueling yet remain agile and fast enough to quickly maneuver troops into dangerous hot spots.

The V-280 Valor, about the same size as the Black Hawk, meets and exceeds those requirements. Featuring twin propellers on tilting rotors, it takes off and lands like a helicopter but can reconfigure in the air to fly like an airplane, reaching speeds of more than 340 miles per hour.

Bell’s website claims the V-280 Valor has “twice the speed and range as current weapon systems” and “advanced agility greater than a traditional helicopter.” The company has spent the last 10 years designing, developing, and testing the helicopter.

The initial contract award announced by the U.S. Army — $232 million — is for refining “the weapon system design, sustainment, digital enterprise, manufacturing, systems integration, flight-testing, and airworthiness qualification,” according to Bell.

The first group of helicopters to be produced under contract will be worth another $7.1 billion. The contract could eventually total more than $70 billion over several decades, depending on how many helicopters the U.S. and its allies ultimately decide to order, Reuters reported.

Mitch Snyder, the CEO and president of Bell, stated that the company is modernizing the Army’s aviation capabilities for decades to come.

“Bell has a long history supporting Army aviation,” Snyder explained. “We are ready to equip soldiers with the speed and range they need to compete and win using the most mature, reliable, and affordable high-performance, long-range assault weapon system in the world,” he added.

Bell, a subsidiary of Textron Inc., employs more than 4,000 people in North Texas.

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