The Sikorsky S-97 Raider light tactical prototype helicopter is advancing rapidly through its flight test schedule, recently exceeding 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center. Raider, developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is based on the company’s proven X2 Technology, enabling speeds twice that of conventional helicopters.
«The Sikorsky S-97 Raider flight test program is exceeding expectations, demonstrating Raider’s revolutionary speed, maneuverability and agility», said Tim Malia, Sikorsky director, Future Vertical Lift Light. «X2 Technology represents a suite of technologies needed for the future fight, enabling the warfighter to engage in high-intensity conflict anytime, anywhere as a member of a complex, multi-domain team».
Sikorsky continues to demonstrate the application of its X2 Technology as the company prepares its proposal for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition, driving forward the Army’s efforts to revolutionize its aircraft fleet as part of what is known as Future Vertical Lift.
Raider incorporates the latest advances in fly-by-wire flight controls, vehicle management systems and systems integration. The suite of X2 Technologies enables the aircraft to operate at high speeds while maintaining the low-speed handling qualities and maneuverability of conventional single main rotor helicopters.
«It’s exciting to achieve these high speeds with X2 Technology», said Sikorsky experimental test pilot Bill Fell, a retired U.S. Army pilot. «It’s undeniably important for the warfighter to get to the mission fast. And once they get there, X2 Technology provides the critical handling qualities that make the aircraft survivable, lethal and agile. Sikorsky X2 Technology changes the way we fly and fight – we can get there fast, be more effective while on the scene and we can get out fast».
Sikorsky’s X2 Technology at the heart of the Raider helicopter is scalable to a variety of military missions including light assault, light attack, armed reconnaissance, close-air support, combat search and rescue and unmanned applications.
The development of X2 Technology and the Raider program has been funded entirely by significant investments by Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin and industry partners.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary, on May 22 announced the successful first flight of the S-97 Raider helicopter, a rigid coaxial rotor prototype designed to demonstrate a game-changing combination of maneuverability, hover ability, range, speed, endurance and survivability. The first flight was conducted at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center (DFC) where the two-prototype Raider helicopter test program is based.
«Sikorsky has a long tradition of pioneering new aviation technologies including the first practical helicopter. Today’s first flight of the S-97 Raider represents the latest leap forward for Sikorsky, our customers, and the rotorcraft industry», said Sikorsky President Bob Leduc. «The industry has demanded high performance and high value from the products that execute critical missions, and, today, the Raider has given us an exciting look at the future of vertical flight».
During the first test flight, which lasted approximately one hour, S-97 Raider Pilot Bill Fell and Co-Pilot Kevin Bredenbeck took the aircraft through a series of maneuvers designed to test the aircraft’s hover and low-speed capability. With first flight achieved, the Raider 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. The Raider program is part of the portfolio of Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development organization within Sikorsky Aircraft’s Research & Engineering division.
«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. «Getting an all-new aircraft into flight, especially one with game-changing capabilities, is a remarkable feat. With this first flight of the S-97 Raider helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft is proving once again that the tough challenges will always propel us forward».
«This exemplifies the very DNA of Sikorsky Aircraft: to explore, to challenge, to pioneer, and in doing so, to ultimately change what is possible for our customers», Miller said. «It is exciting that the S-97 Raider helicopter leverages a mix of evolutionary rotorcraft technologies that, when combined in this new way, results in revolutionary capability».
Sikorsky launched the S-97 Raider helicopter program in September 2010, with objectives of maturing the Collier-Award 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 percent 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 multi-mission 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/444 km/h.
«Based on the capabilities that were demonstrated today, Sikorsky is positioned to develop the S-97 Raider helicopter’s game-changing capabilities to enable helicopter forces to out-perform on the battleground of tomorrow», said Samir Mehta, President of Sikorsky Defense Systems & Services. «With the Raider aircraft’s unmatched combination of speed, maneuverability and acoustic signature, Sikorsky Aircraft is ideally positioned to provide the military with essential mission-specific capabilities. With this flight, we have started the demonstration of solutions to not only near-term capability gaps but also solutions for future vertical lift needs».
The second S-97 Raider helicopter prototype is on track to complete final assembly in 2015. A demonstration tour of the Raider helicopter is planned for 2016.
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: >240 knots/276 mph/444 km/h
C-17 loadout: 4 aircraft
70-mm 2.75″ rockets
12,7-mm .50 cal 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.
The S-97 Raider helicopter successfully achieved its first flight at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on May 22. Congratulations to Chief Pilot Bill Fell, Co-pilot Kevin Bredenbeck and the entire Raider team
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., recently hosted more than two dozen guests, including delegates from NATO’s Joint Capability Group Vertical Lift (JCGVL), for an up close look at the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53K heavy lift helicopter. The group toured Sikorsky’s Florida Assembly & Flight Operations Center where they were able to walk along the production lines for both the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter and Black Hawk H-60M aircraft.
The delegates also had the opportunity to visit Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center (DFC), site of full system testing of the heavy lift helicopter. The NATO group was able to see the CH-53K Ground Test Vehicle (GTV), a prototype tethered to the ground. The delegation was also able to view the CH-53K Engineering Development Model 1 (EDM 1), one of four flight test aircraft.
The visit wrapped up with delegates getting a chance to see the first of two prototypes of the S-97 Raider helicopter, developed by Sikorsky to demonstrate the military application of Sikorsky’s X2 Technology. A second Raider prototype will serve as a demonstrator aircraft, offering key customers an opportunity to experience the capabilities of X2 Technology first hand. The Raider helicopter is a rigid coaxial rotor prototype aircraft ideally suited for armed reconnaissance and a wide range of special operations missions. The coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and pusher propeller provide cruise speeds beyond 220 knots/253 mph/407 km/h, more than double the speed of conventional helicopters in this size class.
The visit to Sikorsky was part of the delegation’s semi-annual meeting taking place in West Palm Beach, Florida.
«We are delighted that our honored NATO guests can be here in West Palm Beach to experience, first-hand, our energy and enthusiasm for our CH-53K aircraft», said Mike Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K Program Vice President. «The CH-53K King Stallion is destined to fulfill a significant role in the international heavy lift arena for decades to come».
NATO Committee Chairman Hans-Peter Mueller said the visit provided an opportunity to see the CH-53K helicopter in full scale and appreciate its capabilities. «We thank Sikorsky for its hospitality. The delegates enjoyed the informative tour and recognize the value of spending time with the designers and engineers building this heavy lift helicopter», said Mueller.
Sikorsky leads an industry team developing the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps. The aircraft’s 88,000-pound/39,916 kg maximum gross weight is designed to triple the external load carrying capacity of the CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft to more than 27,000 pounds/12,247 kg over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles/204 km under «high hot» ambient conditions.
U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Hank Vanderborght, H-53 Program Manager at the Naval Air Systems Command, said the CH-53K helicopter program will expand the fleet’s ability to move more material and more rapidly using proven and mature technologies. «Our allies will benefit from the U.S. Marine Corps investment in this next generation heavy lift platform», said Col. Vanderborght. «The CH-53K represents not just the continuation of heavy lift capability but a transformation of what we can do to ensure the Marine Corps remains the most ready force».
Sikorsky continues to conduct tests on four flight test aircraft at its facilities in West Palm Beach and Stratford, Connecticut.
Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion
The CH-53K model will be the world’s premier heavy lift helicopter, leveraging the lessons learned over 50 years of manufacturing and operational success with Sikorsky CH-53A/D/E predecessors. Built to thrive in the modern battlefield, the extremely capable CH-53K aircraft will be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable across the full spectrum of operating conditions for which it was designed. Expeditionary in nature, the CH-53K aircraft will be fully shipboard compatible and capable of operating from austere and remote forward operating bases. The CH-53K helicopter is the Marine Corps’ critical land and sea based logistics connector.
Number of Engines
7,500 shp/5,595 kw
Maximum Gross Weight (Internal Load)
74,000 lbs/33,566 kg
Maximum Gross Weight (External Load)
88,000 lbs/39,916 kg
141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h
460 NM/852 km
AEO* Service Ceiling
14,380 feet/4,383 m
HIGE** Ceiling (MAGW)
13,630 feet/4,155 m
HOGE*** Ceiling (MAGW)
10,080 feet/3,073 m
30 feet/9.1 m
9 feet/2.7 m
6.5 feet/2.0 m
264.47 feet2/24.57 m2
1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3
* All Engines Operating
** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect
*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect
New build hybrid composite airframe structure – provides lighter weight and lower vibration throughout aircraft life
Large composite sponsons
Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS)
Advanced drive system
Improved fuel system with refueling probe
Enhanced ballistic protection
Crashworthy retracting landing gear
Single, dual and triple cargo hook with 3 times the lift capability of the CH-53E to 110 NM/204 km (in hot/high conditions)
Advanced light weight armor to protect passengers and crew
Crashworthy troop seats
Integrated Mobile Aircrew Restraint System (IMARS)
Integral cargo handling system with rated capacity for two 463L pallets
Avionics and Flight Controls
Rockwell Collins Avionics Management System
Fly-by-wire flight controls
Pilot/co-pilot/crew chief/4th crew
FLIR with helmet-mounted navigational displays
Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE)
Powerplant and fuel system
Three T408-GE-400 engines with less fuel consumption, more power and fewer parts than its predecessor, the T64
Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) with pneumatic start
Integral EAPPS – Engine Air Particle Protection System
Rotor and drive system
4th Generation Composite main rotor blades with advanced airfoils
New tail rotor head and blades
Elastomeric main rotor head
Automatic blade fold
Advanced drive system with a split torque design main gearbox