Sikorsky S­97 RAIDER helicopter completes first test flight

RAIDER features a composite airframe and a maximum gross weight of slightly more than 11,000 lb/4,990 kg.

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Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, CT, US), a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (Hartford, CT, US), has successfully completed the first flight of the S­ 97 RAIDER helicopter at the Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center (DFC) where the two prototype RAIDER helicopter test program is based. 

During the first test flight, which lasted approximately one hour, RAIDER pilot Bill Fell and co­pilot Kevin Bredenbeck took the aircraft through a series of maneuvers designed to test the aircraft’s hover and low­-speed capability. Now that the first flight was a success, 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.

“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 for Sikorsky. “Getting an all new aircraft into flight, especially one with game changing capabilities, is a remarkable feat. With this first flight of the S­97 RAIDER helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft is proving once again that the tough challenges will always propel us forward.”

Sikorsky launched the S­97 RAIDER helicopter program in September 2010, with objectives of maturing the Collier­Award 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% 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 multi­mission 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). RAIDER features a composite airframe and a maximum gross weight of slightly more than 11,000 lb/4,990 kg.