The Army?s Next Attack Helicopter Could Look Like This

After spending much of the past decade almost exclusively building and developing tiltrotor aircraft for the U.S. military, Bell is returning to its roots, pitching the U.S. Army a traditional helicopter for attack and reconnaissance missions.

The Textron company on Tuesday unveiled the Bell 360 Invictus, with a sporty-looking, new design that executives say is based on existing commercial technology, keeping it cheap to fly and maintain. 

?If you need ? and can afford a Corvette, do you go buy a Ferrari,? Jeffrey Schloesser, executive Bell?s vice president of strategic pursuits, said during a briefing in Arlington, Virginia. ?This is not a truck. This is a high-speed, agile aircraft at an affordable price that meets all the requirements from the U.S. Army.?


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.