Flying low, fast and expertly executing crisp, tight, quick maneuvers that only Sikorsky’s X2 Technology™ family of helicopters brings, the Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER® helicopter flew two demonstrations before Army officials and Soldiers at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama this week. The events offered a glimpse at Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company’s bid for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, part of the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort to revolutionize its aircraft fleet. Sikorsky is a Lockheed Martin Company. The S-97 RAIDER, solely funded by Sikorsky is the only representative FARA aircraft flying today and provides risk reduction for Sikorsky’s FARA concept, RAIDER X®, a fast, agile, survivable compound coaxial helicopter that will allow future aviators to address evolving peer and near-peer threats in the most difficult environments.
RAIDER X will fully integrate the strengths of Lockheed Martin such as digital thread, advanced manufacturing, sustainment, training, and weapon and mission system development, manufacture and integration. At Sikorsky, the digital thread is built into current programs and is being utilized today in Sikorsky digital advanced manufacturing facility. This proven, holistic life-cycle approach runs seamlessly throughout the design, development, production, supply chain and sustainment process. Today, all of Sikorsky’s programs are born in a digital environment. The power of this digital thread drives affordability, producibility and reliability across the aircraft lifecycle. In addition to the FARA competition, Sikorsky and Boeing are offering the DEFIANT X™ for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition. With RAIDER X and DEFIANT X, the Army could have common, scalable aircraft with the mission advantage the Army is looking for.
Both FARA and FLRAA are among the Army’s top modernization priorities meant to address near-peer threats in the multi-domain operations (MDO) of 2030 and beyond. On April 13 and 15 at Redstone, Sikorsky’s Christiaan Corry and Bill Fell piloted the S-97 RAIDER flight routines that highlighted both low-level helicopter maneuverability and the high-speed capability that only Sikorsky’s X2 Technology family of helicopters offers. Corry previously flew with the first Army experimental test pilot in S-97 RAIDER, with additional events to come. Sikorsky has been flying and testing X2 Technology for more than a decade, accumulating nearly 500 hours on its X2 Technology test beds and aircraft including the X2 Technology Demonstrator, RAIDER and DEFIANT.
Sikorsky’s facility in Cummings Research Park in Huntsville houses about 100 employees dedicated to supporting Future Vertical Lift, U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters and other military aviation programs. Also located in Huntsville is Sikorsky’s RAIDER X Portable Full-Mission Simulator (PFMS). The simulator consists of a full cockpit with a wrap-around dome for out-the-window visuals which can be updated as the system matures. In addition to the basic flying, the cockpit simulates sensors, weapons and a variety of tactical environments. The high-fidelity simulator has welcomed Army aviators, Soldiers and leaders at tradeshows and special events around the U.S. since 2018. In addition, Sikorsky and Boeing have developed a DEFIANT X simulator, which is permanently located at the Sikorsky Huntsville facility.