The Texas-headquartered aviation company, Bell, has finally unveiled the pictures of its most anticipated helicopter, known as the “Invictus 360”. As per the company, the helicopter is about 90% complete and is seeking its listing in the “Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program”. The manufacturing of this helicopter involves a low cost of production and provides efficiency in the speed parameters. However, at the HAI Heli Expo 22 trade show in Dallas, Texas, the official bodies of Bell stated that the construction of this prototype is 87% completed. In addition to that, the company is also expecting 100% completion of its prototype so that it may take its first flight in 2023.
Coupled with this, the fuselage of the prototype can be seen as fully accomplished, and the cockpit is designed in a tandem configuration. In this type of configuration, the co-pilot sits behind the pilot in the forward part of the fuselage. As per the company, “Its design is not optimized for radio-frequency low-observability (stealth) in any major way.” Also, the main and tail rotors of the Invictus 360 are comprised of four blades, which are already installed for each position.
It is interesting to note that the initial design of the helicopter’s rotor system has been taken from the “Bell 525 Relentless Helicopter”, in which the tail rotor configuration was in the tilted position. But this new and updated design has an “exposed” system of the tail rotor, which is reportedly meant to reduce weight and optimize its operational performance parameters. Further elements integrated with this eye-catching design of the Invictus 360 include “XM915 20mm three-barrel cannon type, two four-rail weapon racks, AGM-179 Joint Air to Ground Missiles, Common Launch Tubes, and the JAGM missile system as well.”
It is worth mentioning that the General Electric T901 turboshaft engine has not yet been installed on the Invictus 360, and this is the major thing that is left in its completion. This will be positioned on the left side of the main rotor assembly. Moreover, in order to provide auxiliary power to the helicopter, a “Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207D1 turboshaft engine” is anticipated to be installed on the opposite side. Carl Coffman, who is the vice president of Bell’s military sales and strategies, said at the HAI Heli-Expo 2022, “We’re doing everything we can do right now to stay on track. Once we get the engine, everything will be in line; we’ll just have a space in the aircraft for the engine to go. “
Hence, the company is expecting to achieve a speed of 180 knots for Invictus 360 and will then be able to schedule its first flight somewhere in mid-2023 after being qualified from the ground testing procedures.