Future Vertical Lift Aircraft
Flying low, fast and expertly executing the crisp, tight, quick maneuvers that Sikorsky’s X2 Technology™ family of helicopters brings, the Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER® helicopter flew two demonstrations before Army officials and soldiers at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama recently. The events offered a glimpse at Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company’s bid for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, part of the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort to revolutionize its aircraft fleet. Sikorsky is a Lockheed Martin Company.
The S-97 RAIDER, solely funded by Sikorsky, is the only representative FARA aircraft flying today and provides risk reduction for Sikorsky’s FARA concept, RAIDER X®, a fast, agile, survivable compound coaxial helicopter that will allow future aviators to address evolving peer and near-peer threats in the most difficult environments.
RAIDER X will fully integrate the strengths of Lockheed Martin such as digital thread, advanced manufacturing, sustainment, training, and weapon and mission system development, manufacture and integration. At Sikorsky, the digital thread is built into current programs and is being utilized today in their digital advanced manufacturing facility. This proven, holistic life cycle approach runs seamlessly throughout the design, development, production, supply chain and sustainment process. All of Sikorsky’s programs these days are born in a digital environment.
In addition to the FARA competition, Sikorsky and partner Boeing are offering the DEFIANT X™ for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition. With RAIDER X and DEFIANT X, the Army could have common, scalable aircraft with the mission advantage the Army is looking for. Both FARA and FLRAA are among the Army’s top modernization priorities meant to address near-peer threats in the multi-domain operations (MDO) of 2030 and beyond.
During the demonstration at Redstone, Sikorsky’s Christiaan Corry and Bill Fell piloted the S-97 RAIDER flight routines that highlighted both low-level helicopter maneuverability and the high-speed capability that Sikorsky’s X2 Technology family of helicopters offers. Corry previously flew with the first Army experimental test pilot in S-97 RAIDER, with additional events to come.
“Flying RAIDER continues to amaze me,” said Corry, a former U.S. Marine with more than 4,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft including the CH-53E, CH-53K and others. “The combination of the coaxial rotors and the propulsor are really the enablers for this transformational technology. As we demonstrated, in low-speed flight we are as capable as a conventional helicopter, but when we engage the prop, we are able to operate in a whole new way – it’s much more like flying an airplane.”
Sikorsky has been flying and testing X2 Technology for more than a decade, accumulating nearly 500 hours on its X2 Technology test beds and aircraft including the X2 Technology Demonstrator, RAIDER and DEFIANT. While at Redstone, Sikorsky also discussed its approach to mission and weapons systems integration, manufacturing and sustainment. For example, its FVL aircraft will have much more actionable maintenance data, providing commanders with information to accurately assess the health state of the weapon systems as well as the ability to self-diagnose maintenance and predict aircraft availability. That increases the operational readiness and availability and reduces life cycle costs associated with that platform.
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