Sikorsky S-97 Raider helicopter enters final assembly
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has begun final assembly of the prototype S-97 Raider helicopter following acceptance of the fuselage structure from Aurora Flight Sciences.
Consisting of an integrated cockpit, cabin and tail cone, the composite fuselage arrived September 20 at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the company will complete a light tactical rotorcraft designed to outmatch conventional military helicopters in speed, manoeuvrability, payload, range and high altitude operations.
“The first fuselage marks a significant milestone for the industry-funded Raider helicopter programme,” said Debra Zampano, Sikorsky S-97 Raider Program Director. “Aurora has delivered an advanced composite aerostructure designed for our rapid development programme. The Sikorsky team is now ready for final assembly of the prototype Raider aircraft. We look forward to showcasing the aircraft’s exceptional performance and value to the US military.”
Sikorsky will convert the fuselage into a 36-foot-long, 11,000-lb. gross weight S-97 Raider prototype aircraft. Configured to Sikorsky’s X2 coaxial design, the fly-by-wire controlled helicopter will feature counterrotating rigid main rotor blades for lift and forward flight, and a pusher propeller for high speed acceleration and deceleration.
Sikorsky proved the efficiency of the rigid rotor coaxial design in 2010 when its 6,000-lb. gross weight X2 demonstrator helicopter achieved 250 knot flight speed, or twice the speed of conventional helicopters. It also demonstrated low pilot workload and low acoustic signature.
The Raider prototype aircraft will improve on the X2 demonstrator by showcasing precision manoeuvrs in low flight speed, high G turning manoeuvrs at over 200 knots, hot day hover performance at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, and significant improvements in payload and flight endurance compared with conventional light tactical helicopters.