Bell has unveiled a radical new tiltrotor drone that could be launched from warships to carry out attacks automatically.
Called the V-247 Vigilant, Bell says it will 'combine the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft'.
It boasts the craft could be in service by 2023, and is able to take off from anywhere - even a dangerous ship's deck.
'The Bell V-247 Vigilant is the next leap in innovation making the future of aviation a reality today – it's a testament to the power and versatility of tiltrotor flight,' said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO at Bell Helicopter.
'The unmanned tiltrotor is the latest example of how we are changing the way the world flies, taking our customers into the dynamic world of next-generation aircraft.'
The aviation giant says the 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 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.
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.
'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.
- Single engine tiltrotor unmanned aerial system
- 250 knots cruise speed; 180 knots endurance speed; >300 knots at maximum continuous power
- Combat range: 450 nautical miles mission radius
- Time on station: 11 hours
- Can hold a combination of fuel, armament, and sensors, up to 13,000 pounds
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