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Sikorsky S-97 Raider Helicopter achieves successful first flight

News International-French

28 May 2015

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary, announced the successful first flight of the S-97 Raider helicopter, a rigid coaxial rotor prototype designed to demonstrate a game-changing combination of maneuverability, hover ability, range, speed, endurance and survivability.

The first flight was conducted at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center (DFC) where the two-prototype Raider helicopter test program is based.

“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.”  

During the first test flight, which lasted approximately one hour, Raider Pilot Bill Fell and Co-Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck took the aircraft through a series of maneuvers designed to test the aircraft’s hover and low-speed capability. With first flight achieved, the Raider helicopter now moves into more progressive flight testing to demonstrate key performance parameters critical to future combat operations including armed reconnaissance, light assault, light attack and special operations.

The Raider helicopter program is part of the portfolio of Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development organization within Sikorsky Aircraft’s Research & Engineering division.  

“It is the Sikorsky Innovations charter to identify the toughest challenges in vertical flight, and to demonstrate solutions to them,” said Mark Miller, Vice President of Research & Engineering. “Getting an all-new aircraft into flight, especially one with game-changing capabilities, is a remarkable feat. With this first flight of the S-97 Raider helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft is proving once again that the tough challenges will always propel us forward.”

“This exemplifies the very DNA of Sikorsky Aircraft: to explore, to challenge, to pioneer, and in doing so, to ultimately change what is possible for our customers,” Miller said. “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 Raider helicopter program in September 2010, with objectives of maturing the Collier-Award winning X2™ rotorcraft configuration and demonstrating a helicopter that meets current U.S. Army special operations and armed reconnaissance needs, while maturing technologies for Future Vertical Lift (FVL). The program is 100 percent industry-funded by Sikorsky Aircraft and its 53 industry partners.

Based on the X2 coaxial rotor design, the Raider helicopter is capable of being developed into a unique multi-mission configuration that is able to carry six troops and external weapons. The coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and pusher propeller are expected to provide cruise speeds up to 240 knots (276 mph)

Based on the capabilities that were demonstrated, Sikorsky is positioned to develop the S-97 Raider helicopter’s game-changing capabilities to enable helicopter forces to out-perform on the battleground of tomorrow,” said Samir Mehta, President of Sikorsky Defense Systems & Services. “With the Raider aircraft’s unmatched combination of speed, maneuverability and acoustic signature, Sikorsky Aircraft is ideally positioned to provide the military with essential mission-specific capabilities. With this flight, we have started the demonstration of solutions to not only near-term capability gaps but also solutions for future vertical lift needs.”

The second Raider helicopter prototype is on track to complete final assembly in 2015. A demonstration tour of the Raider helicopter is planned for 2016.