Army experimental test pilots flew Bell’s [TXT] V-280 Valor offering for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) in August, the service said Tuesday.

The V-280 Valor is one of two offerings for the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program to find a Black Hawk replacement, with Bell competing against

Sikorsky [LMT] and Boeing’s [BA] SB-1 Defiant.

U.S. Army Experimental Test Pilot Maj. Wesley Paulsen and Bell Aircraft pilot Paul Ryan approach the Bell V-280 Valor at the Bell Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas, in preparation for flights of the aircraft. (Photo Credit: JAY MILLER)

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Army Experimental Test Pilots to fly the tech demonstrators developed under the Joint Multi-Role Technical Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program; providing an initial familiarization with advanced rotorcraft technologies we might expect to see in the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program of record,” Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen, director of the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team, said in a statement.

Bell said the flight tests, which took place the week of Aug. 24 at the company’s Arlington, Texas facility, arrived as the V-280 has now surpassed 180 flight hours and 336 total operational hours on the platform. 

Army test pilots will fly Sikorsky-Boeing’s Defiant later this year, according to the Army. 

In March, the Army announced it selected Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing to move into FLRAA’s Competitive Demo & Risk Reduction (CD&RR) phase, with both offerings having participated in the JMR-TD program to inform requirements (Defense Daily, March 16). 

During JMR-TD, Army test pilots flew Bell’s V-280 for the first time in 2018.

A downselect to one competitor is slated for 2022, with the Army looking to begin fielding FLRAA in 2030.

The Army said the test pilots spent the week training on the ground at Bell’s Software Integration Lab at its Arlington facility before flying the aircraft.

The test pilots are tasked with reporting on flight test results to inform future materiel decisions. 

“These flights are an important milestone as the Army builds combined test teams with our industry partners and develops the experience and expertise to test new technologies for Future Vertical Lift,” Col. Steven Braddom, commander of U.S. Army Redstone Test Center, said in a statement.