Sikorsky is beginning the installation process of the U.S. Army’s new Improved Turbine Engine (ITEP) on its RAIDER X aircraft designed for the Future Attack Reconnaissance (FARA) program. The U.S. Army and Sikorsky engineers reviewed the engine after its arrival at the company’s West Palm Beach facility and then transferred it to the engine integration test lab next to the RAIDER X assembly area on Oct 20. RAIDER X is currently 98% complete. After installing additional instrumentation, Sikorsky will begin engine installation immediately. Final system tests and check-outs will be accomplished. Those will be followed by engine turn on and drive system check out with the ITEP in the aircraft. The company will conduct flight acceptance testing and proceed to first flight. First flight of RAIDER X is expected in late 2024, when the engine and aircraft are approved for flight by the Army. In addition to RAIDER X, the Army intends to transition the ITEP engine to the UH-60 Black Hawk fleet.
“Lockheed Martin’s model-based systems engineering approach gives the Sikorsky team confidence in this final phase of the RAIDER X build which brings us one step closer to completing this weapon system that will match the rapid pace of the reconnaissance mission. The data RAIDER X gathers – and the speed and agility with which it operates – will support the Army’s mission for deep sensing capability and unsurpassed networking, connecting Soldiers and the joint force to the information they need to complete their missions. With increased fuel efficiency and 50% more power than the current engine, the ITEP engine is one of the cornerstones to Black Hawk modernization and will increase the aircraft’s lift capability and range. As the U.S. Army fields Future Vertical Lift aircraft, the Black Hawk will remain the foundational tactical air assault and utility aircraft for the U.S. Army,” said Future Vertical Lift Vice President Andy Adams.
The Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program was initiated by the United States Army in 2018 to develop a successor to the Bell OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopter as part of the Future Vertical Lift program. The OH-58 was retired in 2014; three prior programs for a successor were cancelled prior to reaching production: Light Helicopter Experimental (1982–2004, resulting in the Boeing–Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche), Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (2004–06, resulting in the Bell ARH-70 Arapaho), and Armed Aerial Scout (2012–13, evaluating commercial off-the-shelf designs). Design contracts for FARA candidates were awarded in April 2019 to five manufacturers: AVX Aircraft (in partnership with L3Harris Technologies), Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Karem Aircraft, and Sikorsky Aircraft (owned by Lockheed Martin). Selection of a design for production is scheduled for 2028, but may occur sooner.
The Sikorsky Raider X (Sikorsky S-102) is a compound helicopter concept with two coaxial rotors and a single pusher propeller, designed by the Sikorsky Aircraft division of Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program. In March 2020, the Army selected the Raider X and the Bell 360 Invictus from a field of five design concept candidates. The Raider X, as required by FARA program specifications, is designed to use a single General Electric T901 engine. The GE T901 was developed under the Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program as the new engine for existing and future Army rotorcraft. Based on S-97 and X2 performance, Raider X is expected to have a maximum speed exceeding 250 kn (460 km/h; 290 mph) with a service ceiling greater than 9,000 feet (2,700 m). Sikorsky considers the S-97 to be an 80% scale model of Raider X; Raider X is expected to weigh 14,000 lb (6,400 kg). Swift Engineering will design and build the fuselage.