A Bell Helicopter [TXT] executive on Monday called on the Marine Corps to lay out specific requirements for its potential Group 5 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) procurement so the company can start designing and building the platform under a real program of record.

Bell Helicopter Vice President for Advanced Tilt Rotor Systems Vince Tobin said the company has spent enough money to demonstrate that it can manufacture a next-generation tilt rotor aircraft affordably and to meet real mission requirements. Bell Helicopter also has the ability, Tobin said, to leverage that technology across other platforms.

Artist's rendering of Bell Helicopter's V-247 Group 5 UAV. Photo: Bell Helicopter.
Artist’s rendering of Bell Helicopter’s V-247 Group 5 UAV. Photo: Bell Helicopter.

At the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) annual conference in Washington, Tobin said Bell Helicopter developed its tilt rotor V-247 UAV in response to guidance laid out by the Marine Corps in a 2016 aviation plan. As the Marines have not created a formal program of record nor laid out specific requirements, Tobin said Bell Helicopter is proceeding under a general idea of what the requirements might be and that the Marines have told him they need a platform for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike.

The V-247, Tobin said, is capable of electronic warfare, ISR, command and control (C2), escort, persistent fires and early warning. He believes the V-247 can be ready for a Milestone C decision as early as 2023. Bell Helicopter’s current plan, Tobin said, is to get through preliminary design and flesh out the design a bit more, but he hopes the Marines will fund the follow-on design effort. Bell Helicopter, Tobin said, is designing the V-247 with the Marine Corps in mind and, hopefully, will get it into production before proceeding to tailor the vehicle for other potential customers.

The V-247 weighs about 29,000 pound at max gross takeoff weight, leaving 13,000 pounds available for any combination of fuel, ammunition, sensors or emitters. The aircraft is 65 feet from wingtip to wingtip while the fuselage is about 37 feet long. Bell Helicopter, in a statement, said the V-247 is designed to address evolving demands, including:

* The ability to operate successfully without a runway, such as in maritime environments;

* Seamless performance in locations without secure runway availability, such as at shrinking land bases in contested areas;

* Significant reduction of the logistical footprint while retaining the superior operational performance by combining the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed wing aircraft;

* The capacity to control the battle space effectively with 24-hour intelligence provided by unmatched long-endurance persistent expeditionary and surveillance capability.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns said Monday it was too early to know when the corps would put out a formal requirements document. Bell Helicopter has a long history of designing tilt rotor aircraft as it designed the V-22 and has developed a follow up aircraft in the V-280 demonstrator.