The Bell V-247 autonomous tiltrotor was unveiled at Modern Day Marine, Sept. 25, 2018.
The Bell V-247 autonomous tiltrotor was unveiled at Modern Day Marine, Sept. 25, 2018. (Photo by Dan Parsons)

Bell [TXT] has entered a partnership with engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce to develop an “optimized propulsion system” for the V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor and V-247 unmanned autonomous tiltrotor prototype.

The teaming agreement was announced March 21 and will focus on the integration of Rolls-Royce’s proven low-risk and advanced propulsion systems into future Bell aircraft.

“The goal of this collaboration is to further enhance the performance and affordability of our aircraft,” said Keith Flail, vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “Future Vertical Lift programs bring revolutionary solutions for warfighters. Bell and Rolls-Royce are focused on delivering those capabilities.”

Choosing Rolls is a departure for Bell, which installed two General Electric [GE] T64 turboshaft engines in the V-280 operational prototype. That engine also powers the Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion. GE also is member of “Team Valor, a group of 12 companies – including Bell – that contributed to developing the aircraft.

The company so far had built only a full-scale mockup of the V-247 tilrotor drone, but plans for it to sport a single centerline Rolls-Royce 1107C — the same engine used in the V-22 — with bifurcated inlets and a single aft upward exhaust that will provide 7,000 shp to the two rotor nacelles.

“Bell is at the forefront of creating highly capable and sustainable aircraft that vastly outperform legacy platforms, and Rolls-Royce is a world leader in advanced engines and propulsion systems,” said Jason Propes, senior vice-president of defense customer relations at Rolls-Royce. “We are excited to enhance our long-standing relationship with Bell and help deliver on customer requirements through innovative solutions and proven technologies.”

Bell will lead the design, development and production of advanced vertical lift systems, and Rolls-Royce will provide its technical expertise in propulsion systems. This collaboration extends a successful relationship between Bell and Rolls-Royce that has existed for more than 50 years.