Apr 262013
X3 seen from behind, optimised for high speed

Should we call it X3e, like all the current new models at Eurocopter? Or X3i? Or X3+? Or X3²?

Yesterday, Eurocopter presented a new concept, a helicopter where the pilot is only an option. The EC145 c/n 9001 is the usual research aircraft of the company, known recently for the “Blue Pulse” program, intended to reduce the rotor noise.

EC145 OPV Istres, France, Eurocopter

EC145 OPV F-ZWAM, Istres, France, Eurocopter

However, not only the new drone was presented. A small surprise was displayed at the end of the movie. You thought the X3 was there only by chance? Of course not!

The Istres Air Base is the most suitable flight testing area in France. All previous test flights of X3 were made there and even the main runway was adapted to land the American space shuttles.

A closer look onto the prototype makes it clear: the rotor head and the top of the airframe have been modified.

X3 seen from behind, optimised for high speed

X3 seen from behind, optimised for high speed


X3 seen from behind, Paris Air Show 2011

X3 seen from behind, Paris Air Show 2011

Yes, the aircraft is being prepared for very high speeds. Eurocopter’s X3 is becoming a fierce competitor to Sikorsky’s X2. Mr Bertling is preparing to leave his seat as a CEO to Mr Faury next week and this challenge is indeed a great gift: the company displays its innovative skills.

X3 and EC145 OPV on ground -"the best is yet to come"

X3 and EC145 OPV on ground -“the best is yet to come”

Do you remember the DGV, Dauphin Grande Vitesse, which became once the fastest helicopter with 372 km/h in 1991? The aircraft never forgot its appetite for the records. In fact, some parts of the Dauphin DGV were removed and the helicopter was modified to build the X3.

Aerospatiale Dauphin DGV, speed record breaker in 1991

Aerospatiale Dauphin DGV, speed record breaker in 1991

Now, for the pleasure of your eyes, enjoy these pictures from the movie.

EC145 OPV during accuracy freight landing

EC145 OPV during accuracy freight landing

EC145 cockpit, Optionnally Piloted Vehicle

EC145 cockpit, Optionnally Piloted Vehicle

EC145 OPV during freight flight

EC145 OPV during freight flight

EC145 OPV and X3 in Istres

EC145 OPV and X3 in Istres





Apr 132013

The brand new AW169 of Agusta Westland has been unveiled last week as a new competitor for the Armed Scout program. Is it intended to replace the first proposal with AW139M?

With this new entry, the British-Italian manufacturer brings the performance of the aircraft closer to its competitors with a lighter take-off weight. (OH-58D has a MTOW of 2495 kg or 5500 lbs)

AW139M has a maximum take-off weight of 6800 kg while the AW169 is lighter with approx. 4500 kg.

The concept provides the reliability of the twin engine and the performance of a modern aircraft. The weapon system appears to be standard with a 20 mm cannon and 70 mm rockets. Furthermore, the cannon is installed with an elevation adjustment capability during the flight.

However, the weapon pylons are located besides the doors, which may prevent the installation of a machine gun in the cabin. The Electro Optical Sight installed the nose has also a limited sight capability to the right side.




On the picture above, we see the mechanism allowing to adjust the elevation of the cannon. This mechanism needs to be corrected in order to avoid the full reaction forces from the recoil during firing.



Apr 102013

Bell Helicopter announced today a fully new aircraft, although drawings were already released months ago (see the article of Aviation Week).

It should perform well in hot and high altitude conditions, 95°F (35°C) and 6000 ft (1830 m).

Considering the previous experience developed together with Agusta Westland on the AW609 (first called BA609, then AB609) and Boeing on the V-22, Bell Helicopter is fully able to produce a performing and reliable tilt rotor aircraft.

The Bell brochure compares directly to the UH-60 Black Hawk, emphasing a range capability up to 2100 nm (almost 3900 km) during self deployment. Of course, the self deployment is in a ferry configuration, flying with auxiliary fuel tanks and almost no pax.

The video wants to display an aircraft that makes kids dream, brings the GIs back home safe and provides the “state of the art” technologies: video transmission from drones and… mission displays. In a time of financial crisis, advertisers would rather show reliable, useful and proven technologies than a futuristic and expensive toy.

Bell V-280 Valor FVL Airplane Mode

The aircraft could be proposed in 2 versions: tactical transport and combat. Beside possible door mounted guns for the transport variant, the armed version would carry weapons:

  • in pods under stubwings (rocket launcher, guns and cannons, missiles) ;
  • in a closed weapon cargo under the belly (for a stealth capability?) ;
  • in a chin mounted turret, possibily with a heavy 30 mm caliber.

Bell V-280 Valor FVL Landing Scene

Bell V-280 Valor FVL Low-Level

Bell V-280 Valor FVL Rear Quarter Attack


See the official dedicated website here: http://bellv280.com

Who are the competitors?

This aircraft arrives in a context of studies by the US forces, wishing for an Armed Scout and a JMR helicopter. The Armed Scout should be a smaller helicopter, but the Valor could still compete with the Sikorsky S-97 Raider and the Agusta Westland AW139M.

On the other hand, the Bell’s proposal can be compared with the Joint Multi Role concept from Boeing and Sikorsky, as a fast helicopter.

The main question remains open though: which weight do you want for an Armed Scout and a Joint Multi Role helicopter?