Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. starts final assembly of second aircraft

Sikorsky is on track to complete final assembly and test flights of the second RAIDER prototype in 2015, followed by demonstration flights beginning in 2016.

Sikorsky (Stratford, CT, US) has begun the final assembly of the second S­97 RAIDER helicopter at the company’s development flight center.

Along with a team of industry suppliers, Sikorsky is developing two RAIDER prototypes to demonstrate the new capabilities in improved maneuverability and flight speed. The RAIDER is a rigid coaxial rotor prototype aircraft ideally suited for armed reconnaissance and a spectrum of special operations missions, the company stated. 

Sikorsky launched the S­97 RAIDER program in October 2010 with the
 objective of maturing the X2 rotorcraft design and offering a helicopter to meet U.S. Army armed reconnaissance and special operations needs. The company developed the first RAIDER prototype as a test aircraft, built to prove the military application of Sikorsky’s X2 Technology. The second prototype will serve as a demonstrator aircraft, offering key customers an opportunity to experience the capabilities of X2 Technology first hand. Sikorsky is on track to complete final assembly and test flights of the second RAIDER prototype in 2015, followed by demonstration flights beginning in 2016.

The RAIDER program is 100% industry funded. The second RAIDER prototype entered final assembly with the delivery of the all­-composite fuselage from RAIDER supplier, Aurora Flight Sciences of Manassas, VA.

“Aurora’s expertise in composite airframes and rapid prototyping was a natural fit for the S­97 RAIDER program, and was a natural fit to our core competency. We value the cohesion of the team in the design, manufacturing and test elements of the program,” said Mark Cherry, president and COO of Aurora Flight Sciences. “We are thrilled to be part of the team that’s reinventing the helicopter and putting it in the hands of the warfighters.”

Sikorsky’s Collier­Award winning X2 Technology demonstrator showed the world its exciting technologies and set the stage for launching the S­97 RAIDER program. As part of the portfolio of Sikorsky Innovations, Sikorsky Aircraft’s technology development organization, the RAIDER features a multi­ mission configuration, capable of performing air assault or armed reconnaissance/light attack missions. The coaxial counter­rotating main rotors and pusher propeller provide cruise speeds beyond 220 knots (253 mph).