Tag Archives: Sikorsky

Climatic Lab

An HH-60W Jolly Green II, the Air Force’s new combat search and rescue helicopter, completed a month-long trial of extremes inside the McKinley Climatic Lab April 2.

An HH-60W Jolly Green II sits under bright lights used to create heat in the McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, March 19, 2020. The Air Force’s newest combat search and rescue helicopter and crews experienced temperature extremes from 120 to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit/from 49 degrees to minus 51 degrees Celsius as well as torrential rain during the month of testing. The tests evaluate how the aircraft and its instrumentation, electronics and crew fare under the extreme conditions it will face in the operational Air Force (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

The Sikorsky test aircraft endured real temperatures ranging from 120 degrees to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit/from 49 degrees to minus 51 degrees Celsius as well as 45 mph/72 km/h winds coupled with heavy rainfall. All of those scenarios were created within the lab’s 55,000-square-foot/5,110-square-meter test chamber.

The goal of these punishing tests was to prove the new aircraft’s sustainability in any operational environment.

«Operating the HH-60W in the extreme conditions was a truly unique experience as a pilot and a tester», said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Coates, 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron pilot, who also performed most of the testing. «Checking system performance under the stress of heat, cold, heavy wind and rain will give us real-world data regarding the helicopter’s capability to perform the rescue mission worldwide in various environments, which is exactly what the operator needs to make solid employment decisions».

Once the lab technicians created extreme environments, the aircrew would enter the aircraft and perform various test procedures. The crew would execute their preflight checklists and perform tasks to see if the extreme conditions affected any of the avionics, electronics, engine and other systems.

The aircrew performing the procedures were also test subjects themselves. Their own reactions and movements were evaluated in the harsh environments. For example, the cold-weather gear worn by the aircrew is much bulkier than a standard flight suit. One of the evaluations was to ensure the pilots could easily reach all of the aircraft controls in the thicker cold-weather gear.

A significant amount of the test schedule was dedicated to preparing the chamber for extreme conditions. McKinley’s lab professionals create, break-down, and recreate again for each new test environment. Technicians worked continuously to go from a superheated 100-degree desert condition to a below-freezing icebox in only three days.

«McKinley Climatic Laboratory maintains quickness and technical proficiency by retaining our own staff of highly experienced welders, machinists, electricians, instrumentation experts, test assembly personnel and refrigeration operators», said William Higdon, the lab’s technical advisor. «Our main mission is to support the warfighter and to ensure any environment they encounter in the field; their equipment has already been proven in those extremes».

The Jolly Green II created some unique challenges for McKinley Lab personnel. The lab technicians created a system specifically for the HH-60W to remove the aircraft’s exhaust. Thorough exhaust removal is a critical part of maintaining the controlled temperature conditions needed for chamber testing, according to lab technicians working on the test.

The design of the ventilation system meant the aircraft’s blades were removed for the duration of the testing. The lab’s in-house fabrication shop also specially designed brackets for the aircraft’s weapons among other items.

«Successful completion of this test is absolutely shared with the Sikorsky and McKinley teams», said Ben Walker, 413th Flight Test Squadron lead test engineer for the effort and Air Force PALACE Acquire journeyman. «Everyone worked together extremely well and we completed on time and on budget. I am very thankful for this opportunity to perform exciting engineering work, while also supporting the warfighter».

After testing in the climatic lab, the HH-60W will return to Sikorsky’s test facility in West Palm Beach for further evaluation. The HH-60W developmental test program is a joint effort between Sikorsky, the 413th FLTS, the 88th TES and Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. Test aircraft are primarily split between Duke Field here and Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility.

«Testing on the combat rescue helicopter continued amidst the chaos of COVID-19», said Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Dirkes, 413th FLTS operations officer. «While the situation could change at any moment, we have not lost any test schedule thus far. That is a testament to the entire team’s attitude and willingness to work through challenges».

Jolly Green II

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, will build 12 additional HH-60W Jolly Green II Combat Rescue Helicopters (CRH) following a second Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract award by the U.S. Air Force, known as Lot 2, and valued at over $500 million. The award follows a string of significant program milestones in 2019, including first flight, a Milestone C decision by the Air Force, and award of the first Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for 10 aircraft. The HH-60W Jolly Green II is an all-new helicopter based on the proven UH-60M Black Hawk and customized for the U.S. Air Force’s rescue mission.

Barbara M. Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, assigned Jolly Green II as the name of the new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter during the annual Air Force Association (AFA) Air Warfare Symposium (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

«This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the U.S. Air Force has in Sikorsky’s proven ability to deliver and support the next generation combat search and rescue helicopter», said Greg Hames, Sikorsky’s CRH Program Director. «Our team works daily – and in close collaboration with our customer – to ensure we build and deliver this highly capable and much-needed helicopter to the warfighter».

Since achieving the Milestone C decision from the Air Force in September 2019, which moved the CRH program into low rate initial production, the program continues to progress, reaching key milestones and executing an aggressive flight test schedule. Currently seven CRH aircraft are in flight, two of which are with the Air Force at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, with all aircraft engaging in expanded flight tests to support the path forward to Required Assets Available (RAA). Low rate initial production of CRH Lot 1 aircraft major assembly is underway, with Lot 2 assembly to follow. The program remains on track to meet contract delivery of RAA in 2020.

The HH-60W Jolly Green II arrived on February 27, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, the site of the annual Air Force Association (AFA) Air Warfare Symposium, offering a first-hand look of the much-anticipated aircraft to service members who perform critical search and rescue operations. The Air Force also assigned the new helicopter its proper name – Jolly Green II – in a name reveal event hosted by Barbara M. Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force.

«We respect the long tradition of assigning a moniker that communicates the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) mission. Jolly Green II is a fitting tribute to its history and to airmen and women worldwide», said Dana Fiatarone, Sikorsky’s Vice President, Army and Air Force Systems. «The name is greatly respected by our workforce – past and present – and it’s an honor to build this critical aircraft for the Air Force and bring it to the symposium today to provide our customer with the opportunity to view the Jolly Green II in person. We look forward to continued production and executing on the recent Lot 2 contract award».

The HH-60W Jolly Green II Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the main fuel tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W Jolly Green II specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, expanded adverse weather sensor capabilities, and more comprehensive net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program – four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).

Presidential Helicopter

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, will build six production VH-92A Presidential Helicopters under a contract from the U.S Navy. These helicopters are part of the 23 aircraft program of record for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sikorsky receives second contract to build Presidential Helicopters

Under the terms of the contract, known as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot II, Sikorsky will begin deliveries of six VH-92A helicopters in 2022. The remaining production aircraft will be delivered in 2022 and 2023.

«The program continues to progress on budget and within our planned acquisition timeline», said Colonel Eric Ropella, PMA-274 presidential helicopter program manager. «The award of LRIP Lot II reinforces the importance of this Marine Corps no-fail mission especially as we move into the next phase of government testing this year».

 

Helicopter on Track to Meet Milestones

The VH-92A test aircraft at Patuxent River, Maryland, have proven their production readiness by undergoing rigorous U.S. government testing and operational assessments, including more than 1,000 flight test hours establishing the aircraft’s technical maturity and readiness of its mission systems.

Sikorsky has transferred five VH-92A helicopters into government test with the sixth completing modification and entering into government test this spring. The VH-92A program is on track to enter Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) later this year.

«Now that we are ramping up production, the VH-92A program is gaining momentum», said Dave Banquer, Sikorsky VH-92A program director. «This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the U.S. Marine Corps has in Sikorsky’s proven ability to deliver and support the next generation Presidential helicopter».

 

Production of VH-92A Helicopters Underway

All six of the production aircraft from the first Low Rate Initial Production contract are undergoing modifications at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut plant and are on schedule to begin deliveries in 2021.

Sikorsky and the U.S. Navy integrate mature mission and communication systems into the aircraft. This aircraft provides communication capability to perform the duties of Commander in Chief, Head of State and Chief Executive.

The VH-92A aircraft will provide safe, reliable and capable transportation for the President and Vice President.

This program ensures long term affordability and maintainability by utilizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified S-92 aircraft which has industry leading reliability and availability. The S-92 fleet surpassed 1.5 million flight hours in 2019 and averages 14,400 hours of safe flight per month.

«The men and women of Sikorsky treasure our legacy of building and providing helicopter transportation for every President and Commander in Chief since Dwight D. Eisenhower», said Banquer. «We are proud to continue that legacy with the VH-92A helicopter».

Whiskey

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, showcased the next generation Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) during a ceremony at its Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, this week.

The Sikorsky HH-60W helicopter at the Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

During the event, United States Air Force General James M. Holmes, Commander, Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia (91) described the HH-60W helicopter as critical took for the warfighter.

«I want to say thanks to everyone from Sikorsky for your dedication to your craft, for consistently living up to your mission statement of pioneering flight solutions that bring people home everywhere every time. And that partnership is incredibly valuable to us and the guys on the ground», General Holmes said. «We’re proud to work with you to deliver the most intuitive, precise, technologically advanced systems to our airmen».

Other dignitaries attending the event included Doctor Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) from Florida’s 18th District.

 

Prepared for Production

The achievement of the Milestone C production decision on September 24 launched the contract award known as Low Rate Initial Production for Sikorsky to build 10 CRH helicopters.

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the HH-60G PAVE HAWK, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services.

«The Combat Rescue Helicopter is the new era in Air Force aviation and a pivotal milestone that ties to our company’s legacy of bringing people home», said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. «Sikorsky employees and our nationwide supply chain are ready to begin producing, delivering and supporting this all-new aircraft for the warfighter».

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G.The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M BLACK HAWK, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

«We send in brave men and women who are going to find a way to get the job done», Doctor Roper said. «But they’ll tell you about flying in and not being certain that they could land safely or putting the broad side of their vehicle between a downed pilot and gunfire. When you hear those stories, you realize that we put heroes on these vehicles. We pick up heroes in these vehicles and they deserve every technology advantage we can give them».

 

Training Systems

On Sept. 19, four pilots and four special mission aviators from the U.S. Air Force graduated from the Sikorsky Training Academy’s S-70i Transition Course. As previously qualified HH-60G Pave Hawk crews, the students learned about the unique systems and operating capabilities of the Sikorsky S-70i. During the four-week course, they each spent seven hours using a procedural trainer, 10 hours in a full-motion flight simulator and 10 hours of flight time in the S-70i aircraft.

To ensure mission readiness, Lockheed Martin will deliver a custom-tailored training system consisting of flight simulators, procedural and maintenance trainers and accompanying courseware.

In 2020, Lockheed Martin will train 200 U.S. Air Force and maintenance aircrew students at our Sikorsky Training Academy in Stuart, Fla. utilizing training systems and three newly built HH-60W aircraft. This will provide flight and maintenance training to initial cadre and units allowing the U.S. Air Force to remain vigilant while simultaneously fielding and employing the added capabilities of the HH-60W aircraft.

RAIDER X

October 14, 2019, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, introduced RAIDER X, its concept for an agile, lethal and survivable compound coaxial helicopter, specifically designed for securing vertical lift dominance against evolving peer and near-peer threats on the future battlefield. Through the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, RAIDER X is the out-front platform in the Service’s revolutionary approach for rapid development and delivery of game changing technology and warfighter capabilities, equipped for the most demanding and contested environments. RAIDER X enables the reach, protection and lethality required to remain victorious in future conflicts.

Sikorsky introduced RAIDER X as its entry to the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype competition. RAIDER X draws on Lockheed Martin’s broad expertise in developing innovative systems using the latest digital design and manufacturing techniques (Image courtesy, Sikorsky a Lockheed Martin company)

«RAIDER X converges everything we’ve learned in years of developing, testing and refining X2 Technology and delivers warfighters a dominant, survivable and intelligent system that will excel in tomorrow’s battlespace where aviation overmatch is critical», said Frank St. John, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. «The X2 Technology family of aircraft is a low-risk solution and is scalable based on our customers’ requirements».

RAIDER X draws on Lockheed Martin’s broad expertise in developing innovative systems using the latest digital design and manufacturing techniques. Sikorsky’s RAIDER X prototype offers:

  • Exceptional Performance: The X2 rigid rotor provides increased performance including; highly responsive maneuverability, enhanced low-speed hover, off-axis hover, and level acceleration and braking. These attributes make us unbeatable at the X.
  • Agile, Digital Design: State-of-the-art digital design and manufacturing is already in use on other Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky production programs such as CH-53K, CH-148 and F-35, and will enable the Army to not only lower the acquisition cost, but enable rapid, affordable upgrades to stay ahead of the evolving threat.
  • Adaptability: Modern Open Systems Architecture (MOSA)-based avionics and mission systems, offering «plug-and-play» options for computing, sensors, survivability and weapons, benefiting lethality and survivability, operational mission tailoring and competitive acquisitions.
  • Sustainable/Maintenance: Designed to decrease aircraft operating costs by utilizing new technologies to shift from routine maintenance and inspections to self-monitoring and condition-based maintenance, which will increase aircraft availability, reduce sustainment footprint forward and enable flexible maintenance operating periods.
  • Growth/Mission Flexibility: Focused on the future and ever evolving threat capabilities, X2 compound coaxial technology provides unmatched potential and growth margin for increased speed, combat radius and payload. This potential and growth margin further enables operational mission flexibility which includes a broader range of aircraft configurations and loadouts to accommodate specific mission requirements.

The nationwide supply team that Sikorsky has comprised to build RAIDER X will join company leaders today to introduce RAIDER X during the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, D.C.

«RAIDER X is the culmination of decades of development, and a testament to our innovation and passion for solving our customers’ needs», said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. «By leveraging the strength of the entire Lockheed Martin Corporation, we will deliver the only solution that gives the U.S. Army the superiority needed to meet its mission requirements».

 

Proven X2 Technology: Scalable, Sustainable, Affordable

With RAIDER X, Sikorsky introduces the latest design in its X2 family of aircraft. To date, X2 aircraft have achieved/demonstrated:

  • Speeds in excess of 250 knots/288 mph/463 km/h;
  • High altitude operations in excess of 9,000 feet/2,743 m;
  • Low-speed and high-speed maneuver envelopes out to 60+ degrees angle of bank;
  • ADS-33B (Aeronautical Design Standard) Level 1 handling qualities with multiple pilots;
  • Flight controls optimization and vibration mitigation.

«The power of X2 is game changing. It combines the best elements of low-speed helicopter performance with the cruise performance of an airplane», said Sikorsky experimental test pilot Bill Fell, a retired Army pilot who has flown nearly every RAIDER test flight. «Every flight we take in our S-97 RAIDER today reduces risk and optimizes our FARA prototype, RAIDER X».

The development of X2 Technology and the RAIDER program has been funded entirely by significant investments by Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin and industry partners.

A history of reliability and safety. A legacy of industry-leading research and technological achievement. Now meet the future of vertical lift. RAIDER X delivers speed, precision and maneuverability to achieve its mission…at the X

JMR TD program

The U.S. Army is looking to improve its aviation technology and recently called upon the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) – National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, to advance this effort.

Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant Helicopter Achieves First Flight
The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 DEFIANT is shown during its first flight in March. The military helicopter, being developed for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program, was tested earlier this year at the AEDC National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California (Courtesy photo)

Engineers from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and The Boeing Company, in partnership with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center Army Aviation Development Directorate, recently conducted a series of tests at NFAC to support the development of the SB>1 DEFIANT, a military helicopter being developed for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program.

The goal of this wind tunnel test was to validate the aerodynamic performance and flight mechanics of Sikorsky’s X2 Technology aircraft. These configurations, which are being utilized on the SB>1 DEFIANT, include a lift-offset coaxial rotor system, composite fuselage and rear-mounted pusher propulsor that provides increased speed.

The SB>1 DEFIANT, which made its first flight in March, is a technology demonstrator for a medium-lift utility helicopter. Future uses of this type of air vehicle could include attack and assault, troop transport or medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).

The testing was conducted throughout the first half of 2019 and concluded in mid-June. To accomplish the tests, a 1/5 scale model of the SB>1 DEFIANT airframe with powered coaxial main rotors was placed in the NFAC 40- by 80-foot/12.2- by 24.4-meter wind tunnel.

Measurements included forces and moments on the various components, as well as fuselage, empennage and blade surface pressures.

David Wang, NFAC test engineer, said the recent tests expanded on data collected from a JMR wind tunnel entry conducted at NFAC in 2016 by gathering data at faster speed ranges.

«From the NFAC perspective, the wind tunnel test was successful», Wang said. «The test customer was able to collect performance and handling qualities data for their subscale model up to their maximum design flight speed».

Data collected during the recent tests is undergoing review and analysis. It is unknown at this time if there will be future testing of the SB>1 DEFIANT model at NFAC.

The full-scale SB>1 DEFIANT flight demonstrator is currently undergoing ground and flight tests at Sikorsky’s flight test facility. According to the Sikorsky-Boeing JMR Team, data from SB>1 DEFIANT will help the Army develop requirements for new utility helicopters expected to enter service in the early 2030s.

A previous Department of Defense (DOD) study concluded that upgrades to the aging DOD rotary wing aviation fleet would not provide the capabilities required for future operations. Significant improvement in several attributes of fleet aircraft, such as speed, payload, range, survivability and vertical lift are required to meet future needs. It was determined this improvement could be achieved through application of new technologies and designs.

To accomplish its goal, the Army has been executing a Science & Technology (S&T) effort to mitigate risk associated with maturity of critical technologies, feasibility of desired capabilities and cost of a technical solution. An aspect of this effort is the air vehicle development associated with the JMR TD program.

JMR TD is the alignment of Army Aviation’s S&T with the Future Vertical Lift initiative, which seeks to develop a new family of system to modernize and replace the government’s current fleet of rotorcraft. According to the Army, the intent of the JMR TD is to mitigate risk for the Future Vertical Lift program through means that include the testing of advanced technologies and efficient vehicle configurations.

NFAC, managed and operated by AEDC, is the largest wind tunnel complex in the world. It consists of both the 40- by 80-foot/12.2- by 24.4-meter and 80- by 120- foot/24.4- by 36.6-meter wind tunnels. These tunnels, which share a common drive system, are primarily used for aerodynamic and acoustic tests of rotorcraft and fixed wing, powered-lift Vertical and/or Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft and developing advanced technologies for these vehicles.

Both subscale and full-scale models are tested at NFAC. The speed range of the 40- by 80-foot/12.2- by 24.4-meter wind tunnel test section is continuously variable from 0 to 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h, while the speed range in the 80- by 120-foot/24.4- by 36.6-meter wind tunnel section is continuously variable from 0 to 100 knots/115 mph/185 km/h.

Presidential Helicopters

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, will build six production VH-92A Presidential Helicopters under a contract from the U.S Navy. These helicopters are part of the 23 aircraft program of record for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The VH-92A helicopter completed operational testing that included operating on the south lawn of The White House in September 2018. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps

Under the terms of the contract, known as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1, Sikorsky will begin deliveries of six VH-92A helicopters in 2021. The remaining production aircraft will be delivered in 2022 and 2023. The contract also provides spares and training support.

The contract award follows an affirmative Milestone C decision on May 30 from the U.S. Navy moving the development program into production.

«The authorization to exercise the program’s first Low-Rate Initial Production lot is a testament to the hard work and dedication from the team to deliver this important asset on budget and within the planned acquisition timeline», said U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Eric Ropella, PMA-274 presidential helicopter program manager. «This award is an example of acquisition done right».

 

Helicopter Proves Ready for Presidential Mission

The VH-92A test aircraft at Patuxent River, Maryland, have proven their production readiness by undergoing rigorous U.S. government testing and operational assessments, which included operating on the south lawn of the White House. The VH-92A has flown over 520 flight test hours establishing the aircraft’s technical maturity and readiness of its mission systems.

«This production decision validates the modifications to Sikorsky’s most successful commercial helicopter making it capable to transport the President of the United States at anytime, anywhere around the world», said Dave Banquer, Sikorsky VH-92A program director. «Sikorsky has been building and providing helicopter transportation for every U.S. President and Commander in Chief since Dwight D. Eisenhower. We are excited to build the next generation of transport with the VH-92A helicopter».

 

Prepared for Production

The VH-92A aircraft will provide safe, reliable and capable transportation for the President, Vice President and foreign heads of state.

This program ensures long term affordability and maintainability by utilizing the FAA certified S-92 aircraft which has industry leading reliability and availability. The S-92 fleet surpassed 1.5 million flight hours in April and averages 14,600 hours of safe flight per month.

Sikorsky and the U.S. Navy integrate mature mission and communication systems into the aircraft. This aircraft provides communication capability to perform the duties of Commander in Chief, Head of State and Chief Executive.

 

First Training System Delivered

Lockheed Martin delivered and installed the first VH-92A training device at the Presidential Helicopter Squadron HMX-1 in Quantico, Virginia, earlier this year. Marine pilots, avionics technicians and squadron personnel are actively engaged in hands-on learning through the suite of devices. The Flight Training Device (FTD) is a replica of the VH-92A cockpit to give pilots mission-oriented flight training in a simulation-based training device.

The training suite allows maintainers to hone their skills to effectively maintain the aircraft and practice troubleshooting.

Fly-by-wire

A technology kit developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, was used for the first time to operate a Black Hawk helicopter with full-authority, fly-by-wire flight controls. The May 29 flight marked the official start to the flight test program for the soon-to-be optionally piloted aircraft. Follow-on flight testing aims to include envelope expansion throughout the summer leading to fully autonomous flight (zero pilots) in 2020.

A Black Hawk equipped with Optionally-Piloted Vehicle (OPV) technology made its first flight at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Fla., facility on May 29. Sikorsky is developing autonomous and OPV technology that builds on its fly-by-wire technology to ultimately reduce the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

«This technology brings a whole new dimension of safety, reliability and capability to existing and future helicopters and to those who depend on them to complete their missions», said Chris Van Buiten, Vice President, Sikorsky Innovations. «We’re excited to be transforming a once mechanically controlled aircraft into one with fly-by-wire controls. This flight demonstrates the next step in making optionally piloted – and optimally piloted – aircraft, a reality».

This is the first full authority fly-by-wire retrofit kit developed by Sikorsky that has completely removed mechanical flight controls from the aircraft.

Through DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program, Sikorsky is developing an OPV approach it describes as pilot directed autonomy to give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in optimally piloted modes enabling flight with two, one or zero crew. The program aims to improve operator decision aiding for manned operations while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations.

Sikorsky has been demonstrating its MATRIX Technology on a modified S-76B called the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA). The aircraft, which has been in test since 2013, has more than 300 hours of autonomous flight.

Sikorsky announced in March that its S-92 helicopter fleet update will include the introduction of phase one MATRIX Technology that will bring advanced computing power to the platform. This foundation enables adoption of autonomous landing technology.

King Stallion

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company will build 12 production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters under a new $1.13 billion contract from the U.S. Navy. These advanced helicopters are part of the 200 program of record aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sikorsky receives contract to build 12 CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters

Under the terms of the contract, known as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 2 and 3, Sikorsky will begin deliveries of 12 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters in 2022, and also provide spares and logistical support. Sikorsky remains committed to continuing to reduce costs over the life of the program. Read the Navy’s announcement.

«I’m proud of the joint government and industry team in achieving this award», said Colonel Jack Perrin, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.

The CH-53K King Stallion is the only sea-based, long range, heavy-lift helicopter in production and will immediately provide three times the lift capability of its predecessor. The CH-53K King Stallion will conduct expeditionary heavy-lift transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations. The new CH-53K King Stallion will have heavy-lift capabilities that exceed all other DoD rotary wing-platforms and it is the only heavy lifter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond.

«Sikorsky employees and our nationwide supply chain are ready to ramp up CH-53K King Stallion production to support deployment of this modern, safe and reliable aircraft in 2023-2024», said Sikorsky Program Director Bill Falk. «This contract demonstrates the U.S. Marine Corps’ confidence in Sikorsky to expand production of this technologically advanced heavy lift helicopter».

Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, and its suppliers have made significant investments in facilities, machinery, tooling, and workforce training to ramp-up production required for the CH-53K King Stallion program. For example, we have installed more than eight new titanium machining centers, designed and implemented a new final assembly test facility with multi-floor ergonomic work platforms, installed 10-ton cranes, and now have 3D work instructions on the factory floor.

«We have transformed our factory for the future and implemented a model for all future helicopter programs», Falk said. «Additionally, our engineers have implemented the latest technologies such as manufacturing simulation and 3D laser inspection technology. These investments in systems, personnel, and our facilities have elevated Sikorsky’s manufacturing technology and capabilities to meet production requirements of the CH-53K King Stallion for domestic and international customers».

 

King Stallion Progress Update

The all-new CH-53K King Stallion, designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most difficult conditions, has flown more than 1,400 test hours and has met all the outer reaches of the test envelope. The King Stallion is in the midst of a rigorous test program to ensure militaries can safely move troops and equipment at higher altitudes, quicker and more effectively than ever.

The CH-53K King Stallion, which has proven it can lift more than 36,000 pounds/16,329 kilograms, is the most powerful heavy lift helicopter ever built in the United States. The King Stallion’s technologically advanced design will meet the future warfighting requirements for decades to come, enabling missions like humanitarian aid, troop and equipment transport, CASualty EVACuation (CASEVAC), support of special operations forces, and Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR).

Accomplishments to date include: high altitude, hot temperature, and degraded visual environment flights, maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds/16,329 kilograms; forward flight speed of over 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h; 60 degrees angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500 feet/5,639 m Mean Sea Level (MSL); 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs; external load auto-jettison; and gunfire testing.

 

General Characteristics

Number of Engines 3
Engine Type T408-GE-400
T408 Engine 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
Cruise Speed 141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h
Range 460 NM/530 miles/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
Cabin Length 30 feet/9.1 m
Cabin Width 9 feet/2.7 m
Cabin Height 6.5 feet/2.0 m
Cabin Area 264.47 feet2/24.57 m2
Cabin Volume 1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3

* All Engines Operating

** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect

*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect

 

CH-53K Progresses Through Flight Tests, Impressive Feats

First Flight

The Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter achieved first flight today at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Florida site, an important step toward bringing this all-new aircraft to service members to perform critical search and rescue operations. The aircraft, developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company and based on the proven UH-60M Black Hawk, is customized for the U.S. Air Force ‘s rescue mission and will ensure the Air Force fulfills its mission to leave no one behind.

Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter Achieves First Flight

Total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours and included hover control checks, low speed flight, and a pass of the airfield.

«This achievement is yet another vital step toward a low rate initial production decision and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced capabilities to the warfighter», said Dana Fiatarone, vice president, Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems. «We are very pleased with the results of today’s flight and look forward to a productive and informative flight test program».

Today’s flight paves the way for a Milestone C production decision in September 2019, per the original baseline schedule, to which both Sikorsky and the Air Force are committed. A second HH-60W helicopter is expected to enter flight test next week, with a third and fourth aircraft entering flight test this summer. These aircraft will provide critical data over the course of the program which will enable the Air Force to make an informed production decision.

«The HH-60W’s first flight is the culmination of significant development and design advances. We are excited to now move forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program», said Greg Hames, director of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program. «Together with the Air Force, our team is motivated and committed to advancing this program and delivering this superior aircraft to our airmen and women».

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

«With the Combat Rescue Helicopter’s successful first flight now behind us, we look forward to completion of Sikorsky’s flight test program, operational testing and production of this aircraft to support the Air Force’s critical rescue mission», said Edward Stanhouse, Chief, U.S. Air Force Helicopter Program Office. «Increased survivability is key and we greatly anticipate the added capabilities this aircraft will provide».

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program – four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).