On September 7, 2021 the Sikorsky-Boeing team released the following statement on the early submittal of the proposal for DEFIANT X for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA).
This statement can be attributed to Paul Lemmo, president, Sikorsky, and to Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager, Vertical Lift, Boeing Defense, Space & Security:
«Continuing a 75-year partnership with the U.S. Army, providing and sustaining the iconic BLACK HAWK, Chinook and Apache, the Sikorsky-Boeing team looks to the future with the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft – DEFIANT X. Today, Team DEFIANT completed and submitted the proposal for the U.S. Army’s FLRAA competition, offering low-risk, transformational capability that delivers on an Army critical modernization priority and advances the future of Army aviation. DEFIANT X delivers speed where it matters, survivability, unsurpassed power, maneuverability, superior handling in any environment and lower lifecycle costs – while operating in the same footprint as the BLACK HAWK. We are confident that DEFIANT X, supported by our longstanding Army industrial base suppliers, is the best choice for delivering overmatch on the Multi-Domain Operational battlefield in United States Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) and across the globe».
We are excited about our continued partnership with the U.S. Army on the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) program to develop this vital modernization capability. DEFIANT X builds on the handling qualities and transformational capabilities proven in flight tests by our SB>1 DEFIANT technology demonstrator and is already undergoing testing and evaluation in a digital combat environment. The result is an adaptable design that delivers transformational speed, range and unprecedented maneuverability at the X. DEFIANT X will be a critical enabler for full-spectrum convergence of Army and joint operations assets on the multi-domain operational battlefield.
As we ramp up CD&RR we will refine the final set of weapon system requirements and complete our preliminary design review for our DEFIANT X weapon system. Supporting this review will be subsystem preliminary design reviews conducted with our exceptional suppliers. The overarching objective of this phase of the program is to enable the successful execution of detailed design following contract down-select. The team of hundreds of hand-picked experts from Sikorsky and Boeing will continue their work to develop an optimized assault aircraft for the Army. Additional activities will include:
Refining our virtual prototype, utilizing a digital twin and digital design techniques that are embedded in our processes today. State-of-the-art digital design and manufacturing is already in use on other production programs, and will enable the Army to not only lower the acquisition cost, but enable rapid, affordable upgrades to stay ahead of the evolving threat. We will continue to sharpen our tools with data from flight test, our powered system test bed, end to end SIL, Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER flight test, and other risk reduction activities.
Sharpening and demonstrating our Modular Open Systems Approach which will enable the Army to readily modify and upgrade DEFIANT X as new needs and opportunities appear.
Closing on the details around an exceptional warfighter experience, including the pilots in the cockpit, crew chiefs and troops in the cabin. Maintainers will continue to perform procedures at scale in virtual reality labs, sharing their perspective with designers on everything from ease of access, to ergonomics, to how straightforward it is to remove parts for servicing.
Quantifying the exceptional reliability, maintainability and availability that is better than the proven UH-60 BLACK HAWK despite the leap in capability.
Background on CD&RR:
Although the development and design completed under CD&RR Phase II will continue to inform the USG for their FLRAA down select in mid-2022, the effort in Phase II is also part of a series of developmental steps and design reviews. Phase II is focused on functionality, integration and developing all the data and artifacts to accomplish a preliminary design review.
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, and Boeing on January 25, 2021 released details of its advanced helicopter for the U.S. Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft competition, known as FLRAA. The aircraft, named Defiant X, will be the fastest, most maneuverable and most survivable assault helicopter in history. Combined with the team’s unsurpassed experience in mission systems, training and sustainment, it will revolutionize the way the Army meets threats in 2035 and beyond.
Defiant X is a complete weapon system that builds on the handling qualities and transformational capabilities proven by the team’s technology demonstrator, SB>1 Defiant. With unmatched range and survivability, Defiant X will to fly low and fast through complex terrain, land quickly, deliver soldiers and equipment to the objective area (referred to as «the X») and get out.
Defiant X flies twice as far and fast as the venerable Black Hawk helicopter it is designed to replace. Currently undergoing testing in a digital combat environment, the aircraft continues to prove itself the most survivable platform for mission requirements.
«We are ready to deliver unparalleled capabilities backed by proven technologies that will truly transform the Army’s mission today – with room to grow and adapt to the missions of tomorrow», said Andy Adams, Sikorsky vice president of Future Vertical Lift. «Defiant X not only includes the transformational aircraft, mission systems and revolutionary sustainment solution, but also leverages Sikorsky’s and Boeing’s advanced manufacturing capabilities».
With its rigid coaxial rotor system and pusher propeller, Defiant X incorporates Sikorsky X2 Technology to operate at high speeds while maintaining low-speed handling qualities. This critical capability provides soldiers with increased maneuverability and survivability in high-threat air defense environments, allowing them to penetrate enemy defenses while reducing exposure to enemy fire.
«Defiant X is purpose-built for a modernized Army that requires expanded reach, survivability and lethality», said Steve Parker, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift. «This weapon system will give soldiers unequaled technological advantage and connectivity over adversaries in a multi-domain battle space».
Defiant X will revolutionize the Army’s air assault capability with limited changes in tactics, techniques, procedures, training and infrastructure while maintaining the Black Hawk helicopter footprint and tight formation capability flown today.
The Army is expected to release a request for proposal on FLRAA later this year, with a contract award expected in 2022.