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1/16/2012 | 2 MINUTE READ

Sikorsky names suppliers for S-97 RAIDER helicopter program

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Sikorsky is self-funding two prototype S-97 RAIDER helicopters for evaluation by the U.S. military. The design is based on the X2, which features coaxial, counter-rotating main rotors.


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Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, Conn., USA), a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., reported on Jan. 12 that it has selected 35 companies to join its team assembling two prototype S-97 RAIDER helicopters for evaluation by the U.S. military. Self-funded by Sikorsky and its team members, the RAIDER program will demonstrate the military applications of Sikorsky's  X2 rotorcraft design, which proved its capability in 2010 to double the cruise speed of conventional helicopters.

"As designer and integrator of a next-generation light tactical helicopter capable of outperforming conventional helicopters in almost every performance parameter, it was imperative we chose our suppliers for the maturity of their advanced aerospace products and technologies," said Doug Shidler, Sikorsky's RAIDER program manager. "Product maturity will enable Sikorsky to demonstrate the RAIDER helicopter's flight and aerodynamic performance in a simulated military environment starting in 2014, and ultimately bring X2-designed helicopters to future customers quickly and at a very affordable price."

The majority of the RAIDER team members are U.S.-based companies from 20 states.

  • Structures: Aurora (Va., Miss.); Cytec (Calif., N.Y.); East/West Industries (N.Y.); Fischer (Germany); Hexcel (Conn., Utah); PPG (Calif.); Triumph Group (Wash.).
  • Avionics: Avionics Instruments (N.J.); BAE Systems (N.Y.); Eaton (Miss.); Esterline Control Systems (Calif., Ill., Wash.); Garmin (Kan.); Goodrich (Fla., Minn.); Hamilton Sundstrand (Conn.); Honeywell (Ariz.); Lockheed Martin (N.Y.); Northrop Grumman (Calif.).
  • Propulsion: Ametek (N.Y.); Ducommun (N.Y.); Eaton (Mich.); General Electric (Mass.); Honeywell (Ariz.); Liquid Measurement Systems (Vt.); Meggitt-USA (Ga., Calif.); Spectrum (Conn.); TIGHITCO (Conn.).
  • Rotors and transmission: Emerson-McGill (Ind.); Fatigue Technology (Wash.); FAG Canada; Goodrich (N.Y.); Hamilton Sundstrand (Conn., Ill.); Kamatics (Conn.); LORD Corp. (Pa.); Pankl Aerospace (Calif.); Parker Aerospace (Calif., Ga.); Schultz (Calif.); SIFCO (Ohio); Triumph Group (Utah, Mich.).
  • Blades: Cytec (Calif., N.Y.); Eagle Aviation Technologies (Va.); Hexcel (Conn., Utah); Rotating Composites (Conn.).

Among the composites manufacturers is TIGHITCO (North Charleston, S.C., USA). TIGHITCO said its initial engineering design and development work for the RAIDER aircraft will be performed at its division in Berlin, Conn., USA.  Future production would most likely occur in North Charleston, S.C. TIGHITCO’s Aerostructures Group recently announced plans to open a 300,000-ft2/27,870m2 advanced composites manufacturing center North Charleston and relocate its corporate headquarters there.

The RAIDER aircraft program follows Sikorsky's successful X2 TECHNOLOGYdemonstrator helicopter, which in September 2010 achieved more than 250 knots (287 mph) flight speed, or twice the average cruise speed of a conventional helicopter. Sikorsky will invest about 75 percent of the RAIDER program's expected cost, with suppliers investing about 25 percent.

Like the X2 demonstrator aircraft, the single-engine S-97 RAIDER helicopter will feature coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller to provide cruise speeds up to 220 knots (253 mph), with dash speeds up to 240 knots (276 mph) or higher.

With a maximum gross weight of approximately 11,000 lb, the RAIDER helicopter will offer full operational performance at speeds and altitudes more than twice the capability of today's light tactical helicopters. The Raider cockpit will feature side-by-side seating for two pilots. For armed reconnaissance and light attack missions, the aircraft can host a variety of sensors and externally-mounted weapons, with the flexibility to carry additional fuel and ammunition for extended missions. In a light utility or special operations configuration, the helicopter cabin will carry up to six troops.