Textron Inc.’s (TXT - Analyst Report) Bell Helicopter division announced that it has collaborated with Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT - Analyst Report) for the development of next generation Bell V-280 Valor helicopters. Textron had previously partnered with The Boeing Company (BA - Analyst Report) to develop the V-22 Osprey airplane/helicopter hybrid.
Lockheed Martin is the first to come aboard Textron’s V-280 program and is a part of the tier one team. Textron originally intended to carry on the venture with Boeing but retracted its decision on Monday to bring Lockheed Martin into the project.
Boeing’s participation in the program however remains uncertain until it discloses the other members in the coming months.
The V-22 Osprey was the first of its kind, produced on a large scale featuring the revolutionary tiltrotors. Textron’s V-280 version is the third generation tiltrotor copters which will provide unmatched speed, range and agility to U.S. Army missions. Bell Helicopters will utilize Lockheed Martin’s latest cockpit equipment, weapons and electronics on the V-280 copter.
Textron claims the V-280 has twice the speed and range of the Black Hawk helicopters. The advanced V-280 helicopters are designed to boost the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (“FVL”) vehicle program, most specifically the Joint Multi-Role vehicle program that the FVL program will work upon.
The V-280 has the potential to replace most of the high-tech helicopters currently in use like the Kiowa scout helicopter, Black Hawk transport helo, Apache attack helo, Chinook cargo helicopter as well as substitute the C-130J Super Hercules cargo-aircraft.
Textron’s close contender for the Department of Defense helicopter bid is the team of Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft, a division of United Technologies Corp. (UTX - Analyst Report). The V-280 program speaks of Textron’s focus on technological progress. This will allow the company to attract contracts from both domestic and international clients, especially with the escalating security issues in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
The U.S. government is modernizing its defense systems and will continue to provide funds for system advancement despite the budget sequestration. This joint venture will play a critical role in propelling the company’s future prospects and help to stay ahead in the innovation race. Textron presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).