New Sikorsky S-97 Raider high speed attack helicopter unveiled
A new Sikorsky prototype military helicopter will be able to fly twice as fast as conventional designs, manufacturers say.
Sikorsky hopes to eventually sell the helicopters to the US military for use as an armed aerial scout Photo: Sikorsky
By Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent
6:44PM BST 07 Oct 2014
A new helicopter prototype that can fly twice as fast as conventional designs and aims to usher in a new generation of military aircraft has been unveiled.
The Sikorsky S-97 Raider can cruise at speeds of 253mph, which manufacturers say is twice the speed of conventional helicopters.
The Raider has a double rotor with the blades moving in opposite directions, meaning there is no need for a tail rotor. Instead the Raider has a pusher propeller at the back, allowing it to reach record-breaking speeds.
The aircraft was unveiled in America last week and test flights are set to begin by the end of the year.
Sikorsky hopes to eventually sell the helicopters to the US military for use as an armed aerial scout and also a light assault aircraft. The firm is pitching it as a replacement for the US Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters and for use by special operations troops.
Steve Engebretson, director of Sikorsky’s advanced military program, told The Telegraph: “We are demonstrating a new vertical lift propulsion system that will dramatically change the way helicopters are operated in a military environment.”
A Sikorsky experimental helicopter, called X2, used same double rotor technology to set a speed record of 291mph in 2010.
The firm believes the Raider is more manoeuvrable than tilt rotor aircraft such as the V22 Osprey already used by the American military.
Mark Hammond, the Raider Project manager, said: “It won’t fly quite as fast as a tilt rotor. A tilt rotor is more like a plane that can also hover. Raider is more a helicopter that can fly really fast. It’s more manoeuvrable.”
The single-engine Raider has a composite airframe and a maximum weight of a just over 11,000lbs. It will be able to carry weapons and sensors as needed. The cockpit holds two pilots seated side by side and the cabin has room for up to six combat-equipped troops, or additional fuel and ammunition for extended missions.
Sikorsky and its suppliers have funded the prototype themselves. Deep US defence cuts mean it is unclear when the Pentagon will be in the market for new helicopters.