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IPFS News Link • Weapons/Weaponry

Bell Made A Tiltrotor Drone With Missiles For Marines

• By Kelsey D. Atherton

Runways are a hassle. Long, flat strips of unobstructed land are work to defend at the best of times, and can't always be found in rugged terrain or on small islands. Yet having a fixed-wing plane fly air support is useful, because plane bodies are faster and much more efficient than helicopters. What's the Marine Corps to do?

If you ask Bell Helicopter, the answer is obvious: a brand-new tiltrotor drone, unveiled today before a crowd of media and experts at that National Press Club in Washington, DC.

This is the V-247 Vigilant. The drone has a maximum speed of 345 mph, though it cruises most efficiently at 205 mph. It can fly at an altitude of up to 25,000 feet, can carry up to 2,000 pounds internally, and has a maximum flight time of 17 hours or a maximum range of 1,600 statute miles (though it can't do all of this simultaneously). Bell provides an example mission of one where it carries a 600-pound payload to a target 500 miles away, hangs around for several hours, and then returns. And "target" here is key: the Vigilant isn't just a scout. As designed, it can fire missiles, including Hellfires and its expected replacement, the Joint Air Ground Missile. It can also carry Mk50 torpedoes, making it deadly to enemies in the sea, as well as on land.