Sikorsky Aircraft vice president of research and engineering Mark Miller confirmed that the Stratford, Conn.-based helicopter manufacturer is considering plans to develop a civilian version of the S-97 Raider, which is a contender for the U.S. Army’s armed aerial scout program. The S-97, he said, is a production-ready, “scaled-up version of the X2 demonstrator,” with both helicopters having contrarotating rotor blades and a pusher propeller that enables high-speed forward flight. A civil variant of the S-97 would be “ideal” for offshore oil, search and rescue and VIP transport, according to Miller.
While the X2 achieved a maximum cruise speed of 253 knots, the target cruise speed of the mostly composite S-97 is 220 knots. At 11,000 pounds mtow, the eight-place S-97 will be approximately twice as heavy as the X2, Miller noted.
The first of two S-97 prototypes is currently being assembled at the Sikorsky Innovations facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., where a nearly complete fuselage was shown to journalists last week. Power-on tests are expected to start by the end of this month, while the rotor and pusher propeller systems will begin ground testing this fall. First flight is expected by year-end.