Sunday, October 24, 2010
Sikorsky Commits to Build X2 Technology Prototypes
Sikorsky Aircraft will design, build and fly two prototype light tactical helicopters as the follow-on advancement to the X2 Technology demonstrator aircraft that unofficially shattered the helicopter world speed record here in September with a flight speed of 250 knots (287 mph).
The decision to continue development of the next-generation rotary wing technology will enable Sikorsky and select suppliers to offer the high speed X2 prototype vehicles for flight test and evaluation by U.S. armed forces. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.
“Having proved the X2 Technology design to ourselves, we have full confidence we can now mature the technology for the U.S. Army’s light armed reconnaissance helicopter size,” said Sikorsky President Jeffrey Pino. “Self funding the design of a brand new light tactical helicopter – the Sikorsky S-97 – and manufacturing two prototypes we have designated as the Raider™ X2 helicopter will help military aviation evaluate the viability of a fast and maneuverable next generation rotorcraft for a variety of combat missions.”
In March 2010, Sikorsky submitted an X2 aircraft design to the Army’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) program in response to a request for information. The AAS program is currently conducting an analysis of alternatives for the Army’s next armed reconnaissance helicopter. Like the X2 Technology demonstrator that broke the helicopter speed record, the X2 Raider prototypes will feature twin coaxial counter-rotating main rotors (in place of one main rotor and a tail rotor) and a pusher propeller.
For the armed reconnaissance mission, the X2 Raider helicopter will have space aft of the two-pilot cockpit for armament and auxiliary fuel. In an assault configuration, the cabin affords space to accommodate up to six troops.
In addition to flying at nearly twice the speed of a conventional helicopter, the X2 Raider prototype aircraft will incorporate other key performance parameters critical to combat operations — increased maneuverability, greater endurance, and the ability to operate at high altitudes.
Compared to other light military helicopters, the X2 Raider prototypes are expected to significantly reduce turning radius and acoustic noise signature, while significantly increasing the aircraft’s payload, flight endurance and hot and high hover capability.
“These attributes will enable the X2 Raider aircraft to meet or exceed the potential U.S. Army requirements for its next armed reconnaissance helicopter,” said Doug Shidler, Sikorsky’s Light Tactical Helicopter director. “If selected by the Army, the X2 Raider aircraft design will enable high performance flight operations in high altitude regions that currently pose challenges to today’s light military helicopters.”
Sikorsky will conduct its X2 Raider aircraft development program utilizing military standards. The company expects to conduct its first major program milestone — a preliminary design review — in 2011. First flight, projected in four years, could depend in part on the pace of development and customer need.