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Wed, Mar 06, 2013

Bell Helicopter Will Be In Army's JMR/FVL Competition

Plans To Propose A Third-Generation Tilt-Rotor For The Joint Multi-Role/Future Vertical Lift Program

While Bell's partner on the V-22 Osprey program has plans to work with another helicopter manufacturer in the Joint Multi-Role/Future Vertical Lift (JMR/FVL) program, the company plans to move forward with a proposal to the Army for a third-generation tilt-rotor design. That word came from Bell Helicopter president and CEO John Garrison speaking Monday at Heli-Expo in Las Vegas.

But Bell did not unveil its proposed new tilt-rotor at the Las Vegas show. Flight Global reports that Garrison said it will be first shown in April at the Army Aviation Association of America conference in Dallas.

Garrison said the Boeing's decision to go with Sikorsky on the JMR/FVL program will not affect the Bell entry in the competition. Boeing and Bell have worked together on the V-22 Osprey program, and Garrison said Boeing's partnership with Sikorsky to present an aircraft based on Sikorsky's X-2 prototype will in no way affect their collaboration on the V-22.

Garrison said that Bell does not need financial help to proceed with the JMR/FVL design, and that the company is attracting "high-powered talent" for the team. But, he said, the company is interested in a "risk-sharing" partner that could contribute both technically and financially to the effort.

Garrison also said that the company has flight-tested two upgraded variants of its long-serving OH-58 armed reconnaissance helo. The Army is in the process of deciding whether to upgrade its existing Kiowa Warrior fleet, open a competition for a new ARH, or continue flying the existing aircraft.

Garrison said the Bell variants feature new engines, one built by Honeywell and one from Rolls-Royce, that bring the aircraft "very close" to the Army's spec of the ability to hover out of ground effect at a density altitude of 6,000 feet in 95 degree temperatures. He said Bell will wait until summer to verify that the re-engined aircraft can meet that requirement.

(John Garrison and Kiowa Warrior images from file)

FMI: www.bellhelicopter.com

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