Bell V-247 Vigilant
The Bell V-247 Vigilant, Bell Helicopter’s newest tiltrotor concept, was announced to the public at an unveiling in Washington, DC 22 September 2016. The Group 5 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) is designed to provide unmatched long-endurance persistent expeditionary and surveillance capability and lethal reach, as well as runway independence to operate successfully in maritime environments and locations without secure runway availability. The Vigilant offers original features including a modular payload system to provide maximum flexibility and power distribution system to provide maximum mission capabilities. It provides extended range flying from land or ship, matchless expeditionary capabilities, and has the ability to remain on-station with heightened loiter times for extended periods. In a two-ship configuration, the Bell V-247 Vigilant can provide 24-hour sensor coverage to effectively control the battle space. The aircraft could be available for production in 2023.
The Bell V-247 tiltrotor is an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will combine the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. The revolutionary UAS is designed to provide unmatched long-endurance persistent expeditionary and surveillance capability and lethal reach, as well as runway independence to operate successfully in maritime environments and locations without secure runway availability. The Bell V-247 Vigilant satisfies the comprehensive spectrum of capabilities outlined in the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan, and could be available for production as early as 2023. The Bell V-247 Vigilant is a solution designed to address the evolving demands of the military and transportation sectors for unmanned aircraft for a shipborne UAS platform, 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
The Bell V-247 Vigilant unmanned system will combine unparalleled capability with unprecedented flexibility to execute a wide array of missions, including ISR, escort, or persistent fire missions – all with the benefits of extended endurance with modular mission packages. A viable, near-term solution, the Bell V-247 Vigilant offers the flexibility of tiltrotor. This means runway independence and extended Time on Station to provide up to 24 hours* of on-station performance. With the capability to meet evolving challenges on the sea or over land, trust in the V-247 Vigilant to perform any Group 5 UAS mission.
- PERSISTENT FIRES - The modular payload system is designed to accommodate a variety of packages. The V-247 Vigilant can be armed with air-to-ground missiles and other precision munitions. An Elector Optical System and Targeting System provide superior target identification and designation.
- ESCORT - The Bell V-247 Vigilant can accompany any asset into contested territory, providing protection, early warning, or interdiction. Autonomous flight capability provides added flexibility to the escorted crew chief, allowing for the re-tasking of ISR sensors.
- EARLY WARNING - The V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor can perform day or night as a picket, providing an extended line for sea or land-based assets and giving advanced warning to commanders, and can likewise be armed due to the platform’s air-to-air missile capability. Modular radar and sensor payloads extend the eyes of the MEU, providing advanced warning of incoming threats.
- ISR - The extended loiter time of the V-247 Vigilant enables revisit rates necessary to satisfy ISR/EW needs. The significant internal payload capacity in excess of 2,000 lbs provides flexibility to operators to quickly trade out different mission packages.
The Bell V-247 Vigilant offers a dynamic profile that is uniquely suited to complete highly versatile operations and support missions. It is designed to provide extended range flying from land or ship, matchless expeditionary capabilities and to remain on-station with heightened loiter times for extended periods. With its signature blade fold wing stow design, it will fit inside a DDG hangar space, and two can be loaded on a C-17 aircraft. The open architecture of the modular payload system enhances flexibility for aircraft customization by mission type. The bays on the Bell V-247 Vigilant are designed to carry high definition sensors, fuel, sonar buoys, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) modules, 360-degree surface radar modules, an MK-50 torpedo or Hellfire or JAGM missiles optimally. Regardless of the need, the Bell V-247 Vigilant easily integrates into priority mission sets to complete multiple airborne requirements.
“Leveraging lessons learned from our extensive history and experience with tiltrotors, we have found the best available solution to fulfill the Marine Corps need for a Group 5 UAS,” said Vince Tobin, vice president, advanced tiltrotor systems at Bell Helicopter. “The Bell V-247 Vigilant will give military customers the capabilities needed to reduce the complexity of deployment, increase speed of employment, reduce mission times and increase response time – all critical elements to completing missions to save lives and protect our freedom.”
Bell Helicopter utilized its decades of applied tiltrotor experience to develop this next generation UAS. The Bell V-247 Vigilant design and capabilities bring to bear experience from the V-22 tiltrotor program and UH-1Y/AH-1Z programs, capturing the V-280 Valor’s unmatched design and performance standards in order to provide unparalleled competency to support ship-board compatibility.
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