Bell V-247 Vigilant - United States, 2023
Detailing the development and operational history of the Bell V-247 Vigilant Tiltrotor Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Proposal.
Entry last updated on 10/24/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Bell V-247 Vigilant is being proposed by Bell helicopter for a USMC onboard Unmanned Aerial System requirement.
The Bell V-247 "Vigilant", an in-development "tiltrotor" Unammned Aerial System (UAS) concept, was unveiled by Bell Helicopter in September 2016. Its design is intended to satisfy the future vision of United States Marine Corps (USMC) aerial capabilities. As a tiltrotor, the product will incorporated the straightline performance of a fixed-wing aircraft with the vertical take-off and landing capabilities of a helicopter - owing much to Bell's experience with the V-22 tiltrotor product. Such platforms can be used in a myriad of battlefield roles - maritime reconnaissance, offshore resupply of ships, resupply of Forward Operating Bases, target acquisition/tracking, general surveillance and the like.
If the Vigilant program proceeds as intended, serial production is set to begin in 2023.
Helicopters outdo their fixed-wing counterparts by their inherent ability to land on unprepared surfaces, not requiring long distances of runway. This allows them to station on warships or mountain sides and serve in direct contact with forward-operating elements such as infantry. The lack of a pilot and crew means no loss-of-life when operating in hostile, contested areas. A built-in long-endurance quality provides for long operational ranges and increased loitering times - factors typically limiting fuel-thirsty, fast-moving fixed-wing aircraft.
The V-247 is set to be powered by a single propulsion scheme driving the pair of three-bladed, 30-foot diameter rotor units. The rotor units sit along a single high-mounted 65-foot span wing over the fuselage and tilt to push air downwards (for horizontal flight) or forwards (for conventional flying) . Combat range is estimated at 4560 nautical miles (radius) with a time-on-station of eleven hours. Listed weights are 16,000lb empty and 29,500 maximum gross. The payload maximum is 13,000lb and this will consist of variable mission equipment including armament options like the Hellfire missile, JAGMs and the Mk-50 Torpedo held in an internal bay. A modular quality will be built into the payload system to quickly refit the vehicle for a new mission scope. The finalized Vigilant will be suitably-sized for air-transportation in the belly of a USAF C-17 transport aircraft and for service on the flight decks of the current line of DDG-type destroyers of the United States Navy.