At the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Bell helicopter has unveiled its new V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor drone for the US Marine Corps. Like the company’s V-22 Osprey, the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) can lift off and hover like a helicopter, yet has the range and speed of a fixed-wing aircraft. According to Bell, the Vigilant can carry out combat reconnaissance missions from land bases without runways or from small ships with flight decks.
Bell says that the V-247 is intended to fit the capabilities required by the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan and, if approved, could be in production by 2023. It has enough endurance for a pair of the aircraft to keep a target under surveillance for 24 hours a day, yet has a small logistical footprint. In addition, it has air-to-air refueling capability, a redundant flight control system, and an Electro Optical System and Targeting System.
Based on Bell’s earlier work on the V-22 and the V-280 Valor, it combines the strengths of a helicopter and an fixed-wing airplane, and can fold its rotors so fits into the hangar of a US DDG guided missile destroyer. Its open architecture, modular design provides a high degree of flexibility with bays that allow it to carry extra fuel, high-definition sensors, sonar buoys, lidar, radar, and a combination of MK-50 torpedoes, or Hellfire and JAGM.