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Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider Begins Flight Testing

 

The first of Sikorsky’s two prototype S-97 Raider compound helicopters left the ground for the first time May 22, carrying out an hour of hovering and low-speed tests, according to a Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation news release.

“Sikorsky has a long tradition of pioneering new aviation technologies including the first practical helicopter. Today’s first flight of the S-97 Raider represents the latest leap forward for Sikorsky, our customers, and the rotorcraft industry,” said Sikorsky President Bob Leduc. “The industry has demanded high performance and high value from the products that execute critical missions, and, today, the Raider helicopter has given us an exciting look at the future of vertical flight.”

It is designed to carry six troops as well as external weapons at a cruising speed of up to 240 knots (276 mph) with a range up to 600 kilometers, and to hover out of ground effect (HOGE) at 6,000 feet at up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Raider pilot Bill Fell and co-pilot Kevin Bredenbeck checked out the aircraft’s hover and low-speed capabilities, with the landing gear remaining down throughout the test flight. More progressive flight testing to demonstrate key performance parameters (KPPs) necessary for armed reconnaissance, light assault, light attack and special operations missions is upcoming.

S-97 first flight

The S-97 Raider employs evolutionary technologies derived from Sikorsky’s X-2 technology demonstrator. Sikorsky Aircraft photo

“Sikorsky has a long tradition of pioneering new aviation technologies, including the first practical helicopter. Today’s first flight of the S-97 Raider represents the latest leap forward for Sikorsky, our customers, and the rotorcraft industry,” said Sikorsky President Bob Leduc. “The industry has demanded high performance and high value from the products that execute critical missions, and, today, the Raider helicopter has given us an exciting look at the future of vertical flight.”

The S-97 employs rigid coaxial rotors with a pusher propeller at the tail, and is a practical development of technologies proven on the firm’s Collier Award-winning X2 technology demonstrator, which unofficially broke the world helicopter speed record in 2010.

“It is exciting that the S-97 Raider helicopter leverages a mix of evolutionary rotorcraft technologies that, when combined in this new way, results in revolutionary capability.”

Sikorsky launched the S-97 program the same year to meet current U.S. Army special operations and armed reconnaissance needs while maturing technologies for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

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