Sikorsky performed a ceremonial rollout of the S-97 Raider helicopter at West Palm Beach on October 2. The aircraft is one of two prototypes that are based on the company’s X2 rigid coaxial rotor plus pusher-propeller technology demonstrator that broke the rotary-wing world speed record in 2010. Sikorsky is proposing the Raider as a replacement for the U.S. Army’s large fleet of OH-58D Kiowa Warriors armed aerial scouts, and for special operations.
Bell Helicopter and the team of Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing will build rotorcraft demonstrators for the U.S. Army’s joint multi-role technology demonstration (JMR TD), which calls for flights to begin in 2017.
Sikorsky Aircraft powered on its S-97 Raider prototype on May 28 at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida, marking the successful installation of the avionics system and a major step toward completing the assembly of the new light tactical rotorcraft. A contender for the U.S.
Sikorsky Aircraft vice president of research and engineering Mark Miller confirmed that the Stratford, Conn.-based helicopter manufacturer 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.
Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has now awarded prime contracts to all four participating companies to begin Phase 1 development for the agency’s VTOL X-Plane program. Boeing and Karem Aircraft received contracts this week, to join Aurora Flight Sciences and Sikorsky. While all four have submitted proposals for unmanned vehicles, the technology that is to be developed has equal application to manned VTOL aircraft.
Companies proposing either tiltrotor or compound helicopter designs have won contracts from the U.S. Army for its joint multi-role technology demonstration (JMR TD) Phase 1 program to develop a next-generation vertical-lift aircraft.
Eurocopter announced today that its X3 compound helicopter demonstrator flew at 255 knots in level flight on Friday near Istres in southeast France. Also part of the unofficial speed record was a descent at 263 knots. These speeds are just a few knots higher than those the Sikorsky X2 semi-compound demonstrator attained in 2010.
During its U.S. demonstration tour, the Eurocopter X3compound helicopter flew at no more than a company-imposed 220 knots, but as soon as it is back in Europe this fall it will fly “significantly faster,” CEO Lutz Bertling hinted during a press briefing in July. Eurocopter expects the X3will eventually break the 250-knot unofficial record the Sikorsky X2 set two years ago.
Sikorsky Aircraft has named 35 suppliers participating in an industry-funded effort to build two prototype S-97 Raider helicopters for evaluation by the U.S. military.The Raider is a follow-on to the company’sX2 technology demonstratorwith coaxial contra-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller.
Sikorsky said it will invest about 75 percent of the Raider program’s expected cost, with suppliers investing 25 percent. Last June, Sikorsky and General Electric signed an agreement under which GE Aviation will provide its CT7-8 engine for the Raider.
Sikorsky has selected GE Aviation (Booth No. 1217) to provide the GE YT706-GE-700R engines and engineering support for Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider program. The Raider is the military version of the experimental X2, a single-engine rotorcraft with coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller. The Fadec-controlled GE engine offers 2,500 to 3,000 shp and is based on the GE700/CT7 family. GE said it developed the GE3000 for medium-lift applications and this engine could be incorporated into the Raider in the future.
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