Helicopter-maker Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. unveiled its next-generation light-attack helicopter, the S-97 Raider, during a ceremony Thursday in Florida.
The coaxial design features counter-rotating rotor blades and a push propeller, among other innovations, that will allow it to fly much faster and farther than today’s choppers.
“Raider is an all-new helicopter, all-new configuration,” Mark Miller, vice president of research and engineering, said at the event. “We haven’t seen something this new in 30 years.”
The Raider was designed to target a potentially $16 billion Army weapons program called the Armed Aerial Scout to develop a replacement for the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, one of the smallest aircraft in the U.S. fleet. The service put the acquisition effort on hold due to automatic budget cuts.
Sikorsky, part of United Technologies Corp., and its several dozen suppliers have spent tens of millions of dollars designing and developing coaxial technology, which it wants to sell both domestically and internationally.
The inaugural Raider, rolled out during a glitzy ceremony Thursday at the company’s hangar in Jupiter, Florida, will be one of two built for demonstration purposes and is slated fly later this year from the company’s developmental flight center in West Palm Beach. Most of the flight testing will take place in 2015.
Sikorsky in 2010 and 2011 flew an experimental prototype of the design called the X2 that reached speeds of up to 250 knots, or 290 miles per hour. By comparison, the Kiowa Warrior has a top speed of about 120 knots, or 140 miles per hour.
Sikorsky has also teamed with Boeing Co., which helps make the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, in proposing the SB>1 Defiant, a larger coaxial design, for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role technology demonstrator program, or JMR.
Promotional information about the Raider can be found at http://raider.sikorsky.com/index.asp. To close, here’s another photo from the ceremony: