GE is among 35 companies nationwide announced as preferred suppliers by Sikorsky on Jan. 12 during the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Aviation symposium at National Harbor, MD, near Washington DC.
"We are pleased and excited to have been chosen to participate in the RAIDER helicopter project," says John Martin, GE's T700 Advanced Programs Manager. "Our longstanding partnership with Sikorsky has generated some of our most successful helicopter programs. We look forward to collaborating with the entire RAIDER team and having the opportunity to showcase our latest engine technologies."
Defined as a light tactical helicopter, the Raider aircraft will weigh in at 11,000-lbs maximum gross weight. As an X2 aircraft design, the S-97 Raider helicopter will feature coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller to provide dramatic improvements in maneuverability, hover efficiency, high/ hot climate performance, and speed.
Sikorsky and its team suppliers are self-funding the design and manufacture of two S-97 Raider prototype aircraft for flight evaluation by the U.S. military in 2014. The program is currently in the advanced design stage.
GE will provide its YT706-GE-700R engines and engineering support for the RAIDER program. The YT706 is part of GE's renowned T700/CT7 engine family and is currently used in the MH-60M for the US Army Special Forces. The YT706 is a 2,500-3,000 shaft-horsepower powerplant that includes a FADEC.
The YT706 is ideally suited for the single-engine S97 RAIDER application and benefits from over 600,000 CT7-8 flight hours (50 million+ flight hours amassed by the entire T700/CT7 family). The engine's proven reliability, low risk and extensive military experience will allow the RAIDER helicopter to demonstrate significant improvements in speed, hot/high performance and maneuverability over a conventional rotorcraft.
In addition to the YT706, GE is also developing the GE3000 for the Army's ITEP (Improved Turbine Engine Program) initiative that is planned as the next-generation 3000-SHP-class engine for medium-lift applications. This technology could also be incorporated into future engines for the RAIDER helicopter.
The Raider aircraft program follows Sikorsky's successful X2 Technology(r) demonstrator aircraft, which in September 2010 achieved more than 250 knots flight speed, or twice the average cruise speed of a conventional helicopter. The National Aeronautic Association awarded Sikorsky the 2010 Robert J. Collier Trophy for the achievement, and for its potential as a future rotorcraft technology.
The Raider program has two principal objectives: to mature the X2 design with additional airframe and flight characteristics and to offer the aircraft as a replacement candidate for the U.S. Army's Armed Aerial Scout helicopter competition.
The X2(tm) design is scalable, opening up a variety of potential mission uses including combat search and rescue, armed aerial scout, medical evacuation, attack, special operations, VIP and offshore oil transport.