Army Approaches Its Biggest Aviation Decision In 60 Years: Whether To Buy Tiltrotors

The Association of the United States Army held its annual conference and exposition in the nation?s capital last week. The event was huge and heavily attended, with hundreds of suppliers participating. But it wasn?t hard to figure out who had the biggest exhibit. It was Textron, owner of Bell Helicopter, which brought a full-scale model of a tiltrotor combat aircraft to the event.

Textron isn?t ranked among the Pentagon?s top contractors, but it sees an opportunity in the near future to reach a breakthrough deal with the Army comparable to when it sold thousands of UH-1 ?Hueys? during the Vietnam War. The Army is seeking to replace all of its current rotorcraft with next-generation aircraft under a joint program called Future Vertical Lift, and Textron thinks its unique tiltrotor technology is what the Army needs.