Bell Textron has released an image depicting design concepts that employ the company’s High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing (HSVTOL) technology. The concepts build on the tiltrotor technology that Bell has successfully implemented in the V-22 Osprey and V-280 Valor aircraft, the latter having recently completed its test campaign.
HSVTOL blends helicopter and fixed-wing technology into concepts that aim to deliver cruising speeds above 400 knots yet can offer long hover endurance with low downwash and complete independence from runways. The concept is scalable across a range of aircraft sizes—from 4,000 to over 100,000 pounds—and missions, from small, unmanned vehicles that could be used for personnel recovery to larger tactical mobility “assault” craft.
“Bell’s HSVTOL technology is a step change improvement in rotorcraft capabilities,” said Jason Hurst, vice president, Innovation. “Our technology investments have reduced risk and prepared us for rapid development of HSVTOL in a digital engineering environment, leveraging experience from a robust past of technology exploration and close partnerships with the [U.S.] Department of Defense and Research Laboratories.”
The HSVTOL technology has been made possible due to the expertise that Bell has amassed in tiltrotor operations and design, along with advances in digital flight control technology and emerging technologies in propulsion systems. The company has pioneered many rotary-wing advances, and has continuously conducted active research and development in the sector. Bell points to the success of the XV-3 and XV-15 tiltrotor testbeds that paved the way for the V-22 Osprey.
The illustration that accompanies the announcement of HSVTOL shows three air vehicles of differing sizes, including an unmanned craft. The common configuration partly follows that of a tiltrotor, with short-span wings mounting three-bladed tilting nacelles at the tips. However, in wing-borne flight, the blades fold to significantly reduce drag, with the main engines providing direct thrust. The fuselages are streamlined for high speed, with low-drag intakes, and appear to have some radar signature-reducing shaping.