The U.S. Marine Corps' 2016 Aviation Plan outlines a need for an aircraft, which Bell Helicopter thinks it can satisfy with its new V-247 Vigilant. Presented to the public for the first time Thursday via miniature model, the V-247 is a single-engine, tiltrotor, Group 5 unmanned aircraft system.
No rotorcraft currently exists that can provide sufficient escort capabilities for the speedy Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The ship-based V-247 will be specifically designed to co-locate with maneuver forces, with the ability to cruise at maximum continuous power at more than 300 kt. And with a two-aircraft rotation, the new aircraft can be available 24 hr a day.
“Some might even call it the ‘24/7’ instead of the ‘247,’” joked Vince Tobin, VP of Advanced Tiltrotor Systems for Bell Helicopter. “So on top of the mission packages, you can also configure for 24/7 [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance].”
If selected by the USMC, the 247 Vigilant could see production by 2023. Its conceptual design has a 30-ft rotor, 65-ft wingspan and 30,000 maximum gross weight. It is currently in the initial capabilities document phase and should be going to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council in the near future. The goal is to have the V-247 included in the USMC program objective memorandum in fiscal year 2019.
Along with meeting the USMC’s requirement for aerial refueling, Bell is close to meeting the need for 12-hour time on station capabilities with the V-247’s current 11-hour capability. Two aircraft can fit on a C-17, and can fit inside a DDG hangar with its fold-wing-stow design. And just like the V-280, the wings will be made with cost-reducing Large Cell Carbon Core technology. Other features include an open architecture modular payload system and a service ceiling of 25,000 ft.
“Tiltrotor meets the need,” said Tobin. “By its nature, the technology provides a performance envelope unachievable with just a rotorcraft or just a fixed-wing aircraft; it provides the superior performance of both.”
Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter