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AUSA 2011: Sikorsky bets on X2 technology

AUSA 2011: Sikorsky bets on X2 technology

Sikorsky is betting heavily on its X2 coaxial configuration as it looks to meet the military rotorcraft needs of the future, with the compound helicopter technology a big feature of its exhibit at the AUSA exhibition in Washington DC.

» Technology | Wednesday, October 12, 2011 • Air News Times
With Sikorsky eyeing the US Army’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) project and the longer-term Joint Multirole (JMR) requirement, the company used the show to display models in the coaxial configuration scaled for a variety of roles, as well as the X2 Technology Demonstrator aircraft itself.

Steve Engebretson, Sikorsky’s director of AAS, said the company’s belief in the future applications of the configuration underlined its decision to self-fund development of the S97 Raider prototype, with a first flight expected in 2014.

The aircraft, which is being developed to meet the AAS requirement, passed an internal preliminary design review at the end of September and has now moved into detailed design.

‘The aim of the S97 is to take the technology that was proven for the X2 and develop a military prototype that can prove it is suitable for the military applications,’ Engebretson said.

‘We didn’t do any manoeuvres with the X2 but the Raider will give us a chance to go around and show what it can do and that as well as the speed attributes it retains all the unique capabilities of the helicopter.’

The aircraft the company used to validate the configuration, the X2 Technology Demonstrator, flew 23 test flights and achieved a maximum cruise speed of 253 knots in level flight before being retired earlier this year.

The Raider features the same twin coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller, and will also incorporate fly-by-wire flight controls, hub drag reduction, active vibration control, and an integrated auxiliary propulsion system.

Sikorsky has also received an 18-month configuration trades analysis (CTA) contract from the Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate to investigate the configuration’s suitability for the JMR project, which is initially looking for replacements for the Apache attack and Black Hawk utility helicopters.

Army planners envisage an aircraft that will enter service sometime between 2025 and 2030, with prototypes flying before 2020.
Engebretson was not able to comment on the scope of the CTA but noted that the company was looking towards an aircraft with better than 10K/95 performance and 240 knots cruise speed.

‘We recently did an operational assessment of the design in the medevac role and found that the army could cover Afghanistan with half the number of aircraft they use for the mission today,' he added.
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