Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., announced the start of bladed ground testing, a major milestone, for the S-97 Raider program. The Raider is an armed reconnaissance rotorcraft designed to significantly outmatch conventional military helicopters in maneuverability, payload, speed, range and high/hot environmental conditions.
«Testing all of the aircraft’s systems together, for the first time, marks significant progress in the development of this next generation helicopter and moves the program closer to first flight», said S-97 Raider Program Manager Mark Hammond.
During the ground runs phase, the S-97 Raider team is testing the first of two aircraft prototypes as a completed system for the first time. The team will perform initial ground tests with the aircraft tied down and will focus on verifying correct operation of the propulsion system, drive train, rotor control system and pilot-vehicle interface.
This testing comes on the heels of the recent successful completion of software qualification testing, component fatigue testing, and gearbox testing, for the first S-97 Raider prototype. Sikorsky launched the S-97 Raider program in October 2010 with the objectives of maturing the X2 rotorcraft design and offering a helicopter to meet U.S. Army reconnaissance and special operations needs.
In addition to ground runs for the first prototype, the program team at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, is prepared to begin final assembly of the second prototype S-97 Raider helicopter, following acceptance last month of the fuselage structure from Aurora Flight Sciences. Sikorsky rolled out the first prototype in October 2014.
Based on Sikorsky’s rigid X2 rotor coaxial design, the S-97 Raider helicopter features next-generation technologies in a multi-mission configuration, 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/407 km/h.
«We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the Raider’s revolutionary performance and unmatched maneuverability for the U.S. Army», said Steve Engebretson, Director, Advanced Military Programs. «We’re delivering on our promise to design and build a helicopter with performance capabilities not seen before».
Sikorsky S-97 Raider Helicopter
The S-97 Raider aircraft multi-mission capabilities will meet both conventional U.S. Army and Special Operations future requirements in a variety of combat roles. Sikorsky is also reviewing potential applications for USAF, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corp services.
Like the X2 Technology Demonstrator aircraft that unofficially broke the helicopter speed record on September 15, 2010, the S-97 Raider helicopter prototypes will feature twin coaxial counter-rotating main rotors (in place of one main rotor and a tail rotor) and a pusher propeller. For the armed reconnaissance mission, the S-97 Raider helicopter will have space aft of the cockpit for armament and auxiliary fuel. In an assault configuration, the cabin will afford space to accommodate up to six troops.
In addition to flying at nearly twice the speed of a conventional helicopter, the S-97 Raider prototype aircraft will incorporate other key performance parameters critical to combat operations – increased maneuverability, greater endurance, and the ability to operate at high altitudes. Compared with other light military helicopters, the Raider prototypes are expected to significantly reduce turning radius and acoustic noise signature, while significantly increasing the aircraft’s payload, flight endurance and hot and high hover capability.
- Low acoustic signature
- Exceptional hover capability
- High cruise speed
- Agility for close air support
- Fly-by-wire flight controls
Multi-Mission for Operational Flexibility
- Internal aux fuel tank for extended range/increased endurance
- Additional ammunition capacity
- Six seat cabin
- Aerial refueling capable
Maximum gross weight: 11,400 lbs/5,171 kg
HOGE* capability: >6K/95
Endurance (standard fuel): >2.7 h
Range: >373 miles/600 km
Cruise speed: >200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h
C-17 loadout: 4 aircraft
- Hellfire missiles
- 70-mm 2.75″ rockets
- 12,7-mm .50 cal gun
- 62-mm gun
* HOGE – Hover-Out of Ground Effect. This is the absolute limit of the helicopter’s ability to hover. Factors that contribute to this limit are density altitude, atmospheric temperature, available engine torque, and payload.