Tag Archives: Sikorsky

Sea Trials

A team of pilots and engineers from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River recently completed a crucial series of sea trials of the CH-53K King Stallion that not only provided them with valuable developmental test information about the aircraft, but could change the way the squadron conducts similar tests in the future.

A test team from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 recently embarked on the USS Wasp (LHD-1) to conduct day and night launches and recoveries that helped establish the helicopter’s performance envelope (U.S. Navy photo)

The test team of 96 personnel embarked on the USS Wasp (LHD-1) in early June to conduct an intensive series of tests that were designed to establish the helicopter’s performance envelope for day and night launches and recoveries at a wide range of wind speeds, to test engaging, disengaging, folding, and unfolding the rotors in a variety of wind conditions, and to allow maintenance crews from Sikorsky and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 to practice working on the aircraft in at-sea conditions.

«We went to sea with a robust test plan», said Maj Joshua «Felon» Foxton, CH-53K King Stallion sea trials project officer. «Typically, you include more test points than you can reasonably expect to accomplish, which gives us greater flexibility in executing the plan. But due largely to the success of the aircraft, we were able to accomplish all of our objectives while we were underway».

Over the course of the 14-day detachment, the team members who were embarked on Wasp accomplished just over 32 hours of flying, well over a third of which were flown at night. Altogether, the team achieved 364 landings, of which 74 were conducted using night vision devices. The team successfully launched and recovered to all spots, and was able to launch 13 sorties in the first eight days of ship-based maintenance.

Foxton praised the CH-53K’s performance, noting that the responsive and well-tuned fly-by-wire controls make shipboard landings much easier and more precise than is possible with many other helicopters. «It’s a real testament to the stability of the aircraft», Foxton said.

Lieutenant Colonel Fred «NOVAC» Neubert, department head and government lead test pilot for the CH-53K King Stallion program, agreed with Foxton’s assessment. «There may be other aircraft out there with similar performance capabilities, but I have not flown a helicopter with the outstanding handling qualities that the 53K provides», Neubert said.

The aircraft performed so well, in fact, that the test team succeeded in testing nearly all of the aircraft’s launch and recovery envelope expansion – the team’s primary test objective – within the first seven days of the trip, leaving the second week to thoroughly pursue the other objectives. As a result, the test team was able to devote more time to identifying refinements and minor improvements to suggest to the manufacturer than it otherwise would have had. Foxton recalled how, during one post-flight debriefing, one of the team’s veteran flight engineers pointed out, «Do you realize we just spent 15 minutes talking about whether we could improve the windshield wipers»?

«We were able to focus on those little things because the big things took care of themselves», Foxton said.

Teamwork was another major factor in the detachment’s success. «It can sometimes take weeks or months for a team to coalesce, but we had 14 days underway to forge a team», Foxton said. «Thanks to the professionalism of the contractors, our Marine counterparts in VMX-1, and our colleagues in the Navy, we were able to accomplish everything so thoroughly that we were actually ably to fly the aircraft off a day earlier than we had planned. That was inspiring».

Neubert and Foxton also had plenty of praise for the Wasp’s crew. «The crew was amazing», Foxton said. «They carefully negotiated winds and weather for us in order to get the ship in the exact position with the conditions we needed for every test point. Their true professionalism enabled all of our successes».

«One of the things that stands out about this detachment was the quality of the ship’s crew from the leadership on down, their commitment to figuring out a way to make it work no matter what we needed», Neubert said. «I think that reflects the command culture. The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Greg Baker, likes to get to ‘Yes.’ Every department embodied that mentality».

The envelope expansion testing that the team accomplished has resulted in the largest fleet envelope for any Navy and Marine Corps helicopter currently in existence, according to the squadron.

«I think this detachment is going to rewrite how we plan a test phase», Foxton said. «It’s an opportunity for us to find very specific efficiencies in our testing, which will in turn increase our speed to the fleet».

Neubert agreed. «In flight test, we specialize in risk mitigation and preparing for how we will respond to something that goes wrong», Neubert explained. «What we discovered in this test is that in the future, we’ll want to spend more time planning how we will we respond if something goes unexpectedly great».

«Our objective is to provide the fleet Marines with a safer and more effective platform with greater operational capability, and this detachment was a successful example of that», Neubert said. «This is why we do flight test – because we come from the fleet, and we want to give good products back to the fleet».

 

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

First aerial refueling

Approximately 3,000 feet/914 meters above Eglin Air Force Base, the HH-60W Jolly Green II connected with a HC-130J tanker for the inaugural aerial refueling by the Air Force’s newest combat search and rescue helicopter, August 5.

An HH-60W Jolly Green II connects with an HC-130J tanker for its first aerial refueling over southern Alabama, August 5, 2020. The Air Force’s newest combat search and rescue helicopter is currently undergoing developmental and operational testing (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Tristan McIntire)

The connection marked the start of two weeks of developmental testing of the aircraft’s aerial refueling abilities by 413th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) testers and their mission partners.

«This capability is essential for the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) mission since it greatly extends the operating range of the aircraft and thus allows the unit to extend their rescue capabilities over a larger battlespace», said Joe Whiteaker, 413th FLTS Combat Rescue Helicopter flight chief.

Throughout the tests, the aircrew and engineers will evaluate the helicopter’s ability to connect with the fuel drogue and its handling qualities during the fueling. They also monitor the functionality of the systems and gauges to ensure the aircraft receives the fuel appropriately with the proper pressures.

«Our job is to evaluate how difficult aerial refueling will be for operational pilots and to identify any unforeseen hazards due to the unique configuration of the HH-60W Jolly Green II, which may not have been present in the legacy HH-60G Pave Hawk», Whiteaker said.

Early missions will be during daylight hours. Testing will conclude with a nighttime evaluation using night vision goggles.

«This is a critical test milestone for the program as it reinforces the superior capabilities of the HH-60W Jolly Green II and its ability to support the Air Force’s CSAR mission», said Greg Hames, Sikorsky Combat Rescue Helicopter program director.

Major Andrew Fama, 413th FLTS pilot, was the Air Force pilot for the refueling mission. He evaluated the handling qualities and made the first contacts. He and the aircrew spent extra time preparing for the mission that included talking through the test sequence and rehearsing the phraseology used during the refueling. It was that extra time spent that made for a smooth mission without issues, according to Fama.

«It’s rare for a test pilot to have the opportunity to test a new aircraft replacing the one he or she flew operationally and to be the first one to do something like this», Fama said. «It was an honor to be the pilot to fly this mission and work with a truly professional test team».

The aerial refueling mission marks yet another 2020 milestone for the HH-60W Jolly Green II program. So far, the HH-60W Jolly Green II has undergone radar, weather and defensive system testing to name a few.

«The execution of this critical test is yet another demonstration of our successful partnership with the Air Force and brings us one step closer to delivering this much needed helicopter to our Airmen», Hames said.

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.