Bell Helicopter — co-manufacturer of the V-22 Osprey — unveiled a concept for a new unmanned tilt-rotor aircraft that the company aims to sell to the Marine Corps, Bell executives said Sept. 22.
The system — which could be ready for production by 2023 — is officially known as the Bell V-247 Vigilant, said Vince Tobin, Bell Helicopter vice president for advanced tilt-rotor systems.
“The Bell 247 Vigilant will provide a platform which can operate from land or off the ship,” he said. “The intent is for the Bell 247 Vigilant to provide expeditionary capability with increased operational flexibility and a reduced logistical footprint.”
The unmanned aerial system is a low-risk approach that is meant to fill a Marine Corps need for a Group 4 or 5 drone that was outlined in the 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan, he said during a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Group 5 systems weigh more than 1,320 pounds and fly at an altitude of more than 180 feet. Group 4 systems weigh the same, but fly below 180 feet.