On the day it appeared the United States and Iran avoided going to war, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy stood on a runway in Arlington, watching a new aircraft built to carry troops into combat fly at the Bell flight research center.
McCarthy, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, and other military officials watched a 15-minute demonstration of the Bell V-280 Valor, which the Fort Worth-based company hopes the Army will select to replace the aging Black Hawk helicopters.
“It is a very complex situation,” McCarthy said Wednesday, when asked about Iran. “And tension has risen. But we had to take the appropriate action.”
He said the Jan. 2 airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was the right choice, although a tough one.
“We are in a tactical pause, waiting to see how this plays out. … Our posture is locked and cocked and we will do what is necessary to maintain the safety and security” of the region.
McCarthy and Granger stressed the need to modernize Army aircraft.
Work on the V-280 Valor stretches over the past six years. It has logged more than 160 flight hours, including last year’s Fort Worth Alliance Air Show, and has been flown by seven test pilots.
Bell officials said the tilt-rotor aircraft developed for the Army’s future vertical lift program has met its goals.
Bell displayed how the aircraft could hover, take off, land, move forward and backward — and fly 230 mph, even though officials said it can fly up to 345 mph.
“Bell is answering the Army’s call for the most modern, lethal, capable and affordable aircraft as part of the Future Vertical Lift Program,” Granger said in a statement.
The V-280 acts as a helicopter when taking off or landing. But when it’s in the air, it can reconfigure itself to go faster than traditional helicopters.
“There’s nothing like seeing this,” Granger said after the demonstration, mentioning how aircraft is quiet and stealthy.
Granger — who is up for re-election this year and faces Chris Putnam, a former Colleyville city councilman in the March 3 Republican primary — said her job is to make sure the military has enough funding to pick the right equipment.
Granger is the ranking member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
“This is a very dangerous world. Everyone here knows this. We certainly know this today,” she said. “The only way we should operate is to make sure always that our Army, Navy, Air Force have the best training and the best equipment, the very best in the world.”
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