WASHINGTON — Bell’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor demonstrator has now flown in cruise mode, reaching 190 knots.

To achieve cruise mode, the rotors in the V-280 pivot from vertical lift to fully forward-facing. While the company reached 190 knots in recent flight tests, it will continue to expand the envelope until it reaches an expected speed of 280 knots, a company spokesman told Defense News on May 15.

The aircraft is part of the Joint Multi-Role Demonstration program that will inform the U.S. military on requirements for a fleet of future helicopters expected to come online, possibly before 2030.

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There are two demonstrator aircraft involved in the program: Bell’s aircraft, and a Sikorsky-Boeing coaxial demonstrator called the SB-1 Defiant.

Bell first flew its aircraft in December. Sikorsky and Boeing plan to begin flying their aircraft by the end of 2018.

According to Bell, the V-280 has logged more than 90 hours of rotor turn and more than 27 hours of flight time. The aircraft has been put through the paces of ground taxi and hover taxi tests as well as low-altitude hovering maneuvers to include 360-degree pedal turns and forward/aft/lateral repositions and 60 knot roll-on landings.

Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.

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