The U.S. Army could issue a formal request for proposal (RFP) early next year for what could become a helicopter armed aerial scout (AAS) program. The AAS–which might encompass at least 300 helicopters–is a potential $5 billion bonanza for the winner and could have significant implications for civil helicopter manufacturers, not just in terms of revenue but also with regard to driving, or not driving, new technologies such as the Sikorsky X2.
The Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator last month unofficially set a new speed record for rotorcraft, as it reached 250 ktas at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The aircraft, which features contra-rotating coaxial main rotors and a pusher propeller, took off at 7 a.m. for its 17th flight, which lasted 1.1 hours. At the controls was chief test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck.
The fact that Sikorsky’s experimental X2 is a compound helicopter will not exclude it from setting an official helicopter speed record, according to Marcel Meyer, executive officer of records for the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world aviation record sanctioning body.
The Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator unofficially set a new speed record for rotorcraft yesterday, as it reached 250 ktas at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla. At the controls was chief test pilot Kevin Bredenbeck. The 250-knot speed was the program’s main objective since launch in 2005, and was attained in level flight during a 1.1-hour sortie.
Sikorsky has announced it will use an X2 Technology light tactical helicopter (LTH) simulator to show its customers the capabilities of its flying X2 technology demonstrator. One of those customers could be the U.S. Army, which would use it as an armed aerial scout.
Sikorsky Aircraft announced the X2 project just over five years ago at the 2005 Paris Air Show. Now the one and only example of what the helicopter maker calls a “technology demonstrator” is poised to break the record as the world’s fastest rotorcraft as it works its way toward a target speed of 250 knots and further proof of concept.
Sikorsky Aircraft’s X2 technology demonstrator achieved a forward speed of 181 knots on a test flight today at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The contra-rotating coaxial rotor prototype is designed to demonstrate that a helicopter can cruise at up to 250 knots while retaining excellent low-speed handling and efficient hovering characteristics, as well as a seamless and simple transition to high speed.
Cutting-edge research takes an enormous amount of time and while the BA609 tiltrotor still shows signs of life, it may end up a solely AgustaWestland project. Sikorsky’s X2 compound helicopter hasn’t broken any speed records, yet, but it remains a fascinating program.
Both product support and research and development have taken hits in the helicopter industry as cash flow and current sales shrink, while future orders are clouded by important changes and growing uncertainty in key customer sectors.
Sikorsky’s X2 compound helicopter reached another milestone last month by completing two test flights that included full engagement of the high-speed tail propulsor for the first time. In one hour of testing conducted during the two flights, the aircraft flew at speeds up to 52 knots in one test and 42 knots with the propeller providing forward thrust in the second flight.