Bell and Lockheed Martin Change V-280 Valor Contract Ahead of Sikorsky Takeover
In order to replace an aging fleet of helicopters, the United States Army has selected one team from Boeing and Sikorsky, as well as one team from Textron’s Bell Helicopter in order to design and build models of a multi-role, vertical-lift aircraft. According to Heidi Shyu, the United States Army acquisitions chief, the pending acquisition of United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky Aircraft by Lockheed Martin should not affect the prototype work that will take place in order to replace thousands of existing helicopters.
"No, it doesn't change it because I think what is important is you've got the Boeing-Sikorsky team competing against Bell," said Shyu in Washington at the annual Association of United States Army conference. "As far I know there's two separate teams."
The pending deal between Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin, which is estimated to be worth more than $8 billion, could play a pivotal role as Lockheed Martin has been providing parts for Bell’s V-280 Valor under the demonstrator program. As the prime contractor for the V-280 Valor, Bell has joined forces with 11 other companies in order to acquire parts. Frank Kendall, a Pentagon arms buyer, has suggested that mergers like these have been increasing the amount of leverage that companies have with the United States Department of Defense.
This prototype aircraft will be used to replace approximately 4,000 medium class helicopters, including the UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters which are built by Sikorsky aircraft company, as well as the Apache attack helicopter which are built by Boeing. Shyu reported that the initial flight tests are anticipated to take place in 2017, which will help to define the requirements for the future vertical lift aircraft.
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