Sikorsky unveils S-97 RAIDER featuring composite airframe

Next generation of military rotocraft uses coaxial counterrotating X2 technology and is 100 percent funded by Sikorsky and principal suppliers.

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Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, Conn., USA), a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (Hartford, Conn., USA), has unveiled the first of two S-97 RAIDER helicopter prototypes, signaling the start of activities in the program’s test flight phase. Sikorsky President Mick Maurer claims this next generation of military rotorcraft, featuring the company’s X2 rotor coaxial design, offers capabilities and performance never seen before. “Just four years ago, we announced plans to build the S-97 RAIDER and teamed with some of the best companies in the industry,” said Maurer, “understanding the need to ensure aircraft development would not falter as government defense budgets shrank in response to economic pressures.”

The S-97 RAIDER helicopter offers a multi-mission configuration — armed aerial scout or light assault — capable of carrying six troops and external weapons. The coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and pusher propeller provide cruise speeds up to 220 knots/253 mph, reportedly more than double the speed of conventional helicopters. Sikorsky will offer the RAIDER as a replacement for the U.S. Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter fleet based on the Army’s future operational and financial priorities, and as a special operations platform.

“Military rotorcraft fleets need maximum performance and increased capabilities to achieve their objectives,” said Maurer. “The RAIDER delivers on that with its greatly improved maneuverability and speed, significantly improved high/hot hover performance, and greater range and endurance.”

The single-engine RAIDER features a composite airframe and a maximum gross weight of slightly more than 11,000 lb/4,990 kg. The aircraft will carry an array of weapons and sensors, a cockpit accommodating two pilots, seated side-by-side, and flexible cabin space that can transport up to six combat-equipped troops, or additional fuel and ammunition for extended missions.

“RAIDER marks the first unveiling of a new relevant rotorcraft configuration in 30 years,” said Mark Miller, Vice President of Research & Engineering. “With the RAIDER program, Sikorsky has brought innovation to every aspect of the process, rethinking the way we design, build, test and support the product. We’ve kept a close eye on lowering development, production and support costs while increasing productivity and quality, and we are confident that the RAIDER is the solution for the future warfighter. We are looking forward to getting air under its tires and expanding the envelope in flight test in the coming months.”

The RAIDER helicopter program is 100 percent industry funded, with 75 percent of the required investment from  Sikorsky and the remainder from 53 principal suppliers.

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