(WAFF) - A new aircraft that's shaping the future of U.S. Army helicopters has been flown by an Army pilot for the first time.
Bell Helicopter's next-generation tilt-rotor aircraft, the V-280 Valor is funded under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tom Wiggins of the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command conducted the flight at the Bell Flight Test Facility in Amarillo, Texas.
The JMR TD is an Army science & technology effort designed to develop, expand, and demonstrate new capabilities in vertical lift technology. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), based in Huntsville, leads the JMR TD effort. It is a precursor to the Department of Defense Future Vertical Lift program.
"One of the keys to this successful S&T demonstration effort is the nature by which the government and industry partners have completely teamed not only during the analysis, design, and early qualification efforts, but also for the flight test activity," said JMR TD program director Dan Bailey.
The next generation of vertical lift aircraft provides the speed, range, payload, and mission systems critical to successfully engaging the enemy in future operations, AMRDEC said.
AMRDEC personnel have been fully involved in the demonstrator effort including integration of experimental test pilots and flight test engineers into the mixed flight test team. Army pilots will take part in additional flights throughout the test program.
"With Army combat-experienced, experimental test pilots embedded in Bell's test team, we have a unique opportunity to help bring the project across the finish line and also develop insights valuable to the FVL initiative. We're very proud of CW3 Wiggins," said director of the Aviation Development Directorate, Dr. Bill Lewis.
Four agreements were awarded under the JMR TD to AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Karem Aircraft, and a team of Sikorsky-Boeing for initial designs with the Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing efforts funded to build and fly technology demonstrator aircraft. Bell's first flight with an Army pilot is another on-schedule milestone in an effort that was awarded in September 2013, with Preliminary Design Review in 2014, Critical Design Review and start of aircraft assembly in mid-2015, and assembly complete in early 2017.
AMRDEC has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers. AMRDEC employs nearly 10,000 civilian scientists, researchers and engineers.
AMRDEC Public Affairs contributed to this report.
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