The assembly of Sikorsky’s Raider X competitive prototype for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program is now 90 percent complete. Sikorsky's compound coaxial helicopter is a semi-finalist in the FARA competition and is 20 percent larger than the S-97 proof-of-concept vehicle the company first flew in 2015. Sikorsky recently displayed the Raider X at its West Palm Beach, Florida test and development center.
A competitive fly-off of both the Raider X and its competitor, the Bell 360 Invictus, has been delayed until October 2023 at the earliest due to delays with the GE T901 engine selected by the U.S. Army. While Bell is fielding a conventional-looking design reminiscent of the RAH-66 Comanche program of the 1990s, Sikorsky is planning one based on its X2 technology that features a pair of rigid, four-blade contrarotating main rotors assisted by an aft-mounted thruster.
At a media briefing held this week in West Palm Beach, key members of the Raider X team maintained that the Sikorsky design provides superior stealth, speed, maneuverability, survivability, flexibility, and potential for mission growth. For example, modular weapons launchers mounted behind the side-by-side sitting pilots can be removed, making way for the transport of up to six troops.
While the Army’s FARA requirements are for an aircraft with a sustained cruise speed of 180 knots and a dash speed of 205 knots, Sikorsky believes it can greatly exceed this goal while at the same time adhering to the overall program budget constraints. “We really feel that this will deliver transformational capability to the Army,” said Jay Macklin, Sikorsky business director for Army programs and innovations.