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.
April 2022 - Bell unveiled a reworked, dimensionally-smaller maritime version for the USN of its V-247 tiltrotor system. As proposed, the aircraft would have a 28,000lb weight and folding main rotor blades for storage.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
65.0 ft (19.80 m)
16,006 lb (7,260 kg)
29,983 lb (13,600 kg)
+13,977 lb (+6,340 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Bell V-247 Vigilant production variant)
monoplane / high-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper-most position allowable along the dorsal line of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base Bell V-247 Vigilant production variant)
1 x Single unit propulsion system driving power to 2 x 30-foot diameter tiltrotors on wing mainplane.
None. Mainly ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) payload up to 600lb. Proposed support for Mk-50 series torpedo, Hellfire Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) and new-generation Joint Air-to-ground Missiles (JAGMs) in internal bay.
V-247 "Vigilant" - Proposed series designation and name.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (345mph).
Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
Bell V-247 Vigilant operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Image from official Bell Helicopter press release.
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