A new helicopter is in development and it is faster than any helicopter currently in use. The Sikorsky S-97 Raider can reach speeds of up to 253 miles per hour, which is almost double the speeds of conventional helicopters.
The helicopter is made by Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin. The company defines the helicopter as “a next-generation light tactical prototype helicopter capable of carrying six troops and external weapons that will redefine helicopter flight during the 21st century.”
Because of the aircraft’s versatile nature, Sikorsky hopes the S-97 Raider will not only be used for the United States Army and Special Operations but also for the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and the United States Marine Corps.
The Raider, according to the company, can be used for a variety of missions that are light assault, light attack, armed reconnaissance, close-air support, combat search and rescue and unmanned applications. The helicopter is made with “Sikorsky’s Collier Award-winning X2 technology.”
Overall, the X2 Technology is designed to make helicopters better on every front. The technology will reduce vibrations, and the weight and blade technology will help a single pilot fly the helicopters—two were required in the past. The helicopter is also supposed to maintain low-speeds while hovering and maneuvering.
The S-97 can fly at an altitude of up to 10,000 feet and can withstand temperatures of up to 95 degree Fahrenheit at this altitude, meaning the Raider can perform what is referred to as “high and hot” operations.
The Raider can even be refueled while it is in flight.
The S-97 Raider took its first flight back on May 22, 2015. Only three have been built—two of which are currently prototype helicopters. The program costs around $200 million, and a single helicopter is estimated to cost close to the $15 million mark.
Back in early August 2017, a S-97 Raider performed a practice flight. During the practice flight, the Raider suffered a “hard landing.” Lockheed has since stated, “We fully intend to continue advancing the X2 Technology.”
Chris Van Buiten, the vice president of technology and innovation for Sikorsky, said the Raider will fly again in 2018. In addition, Van Buiten said the hard landing was not associated with the X2 Technology.
“The neighborhood of the root cause is the complex interaction between the ground, the landing gear, the flight control system and the associated pilot interactions,” Van Buiten said. “If you are familiar with the rotorcraft industry, this is a well-documented complex set of interaction.”
Van Buiten said the landing gear had “significant damage” but the aircraft was still salvageable. The pilots on board received minor injuries that required no further medical follow-up. “We are making some changes to the flight control system software to accommodate that and assure that it never happens again,” Van Buiten said.
The program for the Raider, according to the helicopter company’s website, “has been funded entirely by Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin and our industry partners. X2 Technology has the latest advancement in the aircraft’s flight controls and manages the aircraft as well.