Sikorsky S-97 Raider Light Tactical Helicopter, United States of America
The S-97 Raider is a light tactical helicopter being developed by Sikorsky to demonstrate the capabilities of the company's X2 Technology. The technology is claimed to offer safer high-speed flights with improved efficiency and safety.
The S-97 Raider will be offered to the US Armed Forces for flight testing and evaluation for future combat missions. The helicopter is suitable for assault and armed reconnaissance missions. The technology is, however, scalable to a range of other missions such as close-air support, combat search and rescue and special operations. It can fly at speeds of more than 220kt at 10,000ft altitude.
Designed with a lower turning radius and acoustic noise signature, the S-97 is expected to be a game-changer in the light military helicopters segment. The maiden flight of the first S-97 prototype is scheduled for 2014.
Details of the S-97 Raider development programme
Sikorsky initiated the development of S-97 Raider in 2010 as an advancement of the applications of X2 Technology in next generation rotor-wing technologies. The company will initially produce two prototypes of the S-97 Raider and send them to the US Armed Forces for testing and evaluation.
Sikorsky's aim is to offer the X2-based aircraft for the Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) programme of the US Army. The AAS programme involves the procurement of armed reconnaissance aircraft for the US Army.
The two prototypes of the S-97 Raider are currently in the fabrication stage. The company has selected 35 suppliers for the prototype development, with the majority of them US-based. It will invest 75% of the project cost while the suppliers will invest the remaining total.
Companies / contractors involved with the S-97 development
Sikorsky X2 is a demonstrator aircraft developed by Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies.
Some of the companies that Sikorsky has teamed-up for the development of the S-97 Raider include Rotating Composite Technologies (RCT), HEXCEL and Eagle Aviation Technologies for the blades; Fischer + Entwicklungen, Aurora, PPG Industries and others for the structure; and Fatigue Technology (FTI), Parker Aerospace, and others for rotors and transmission.
The S-97 Raider development is also being sponsored by a number of companies including GE, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, Garmin, Parker Aerospace, Hamilton Sundstrand, among others.
PPG Aerospace was selected in June 2012 to supply the plastic transparencies for the S-97 Raider prototypes. As part of the supply agreement, PPG will develop and produce coated windshields for the pilot and co-pilot, side windows of the cockpit, as well as the lower observation and fuselage windows.
Design features of the S-97 Raider
The S-97 Raider armed scout helicopter is 37ft long and 16ft wide. It is fitted with a 34ft diameter rotor and a 7ft diameter propeller in the rear.
The fuselage of the helicopter will be built of composite materials. The cabin will have seating for a troop of six. The cockpit can accommodate two pilots in a side-by-side seating arrangement.
The helicopter will be fitted with twin rigid co-axial counter-rotating main rotors. An auxiliary internal fuel tank will be provided aft of the cockpit for extended mission support and operational flexibility. The helicopter features a retractable landing gear and fly-by-wire flight controls.
Other design features of the S-97 include active vibration control, hub drag reduction, integrated thermal management system and split torque transmission.
Armaments / weapons of the light tactical helicopter
The S-97 Raider will carry armament payloads including Hellfire missiles, 2.75in rockets, a .50 cal gun and a 7.62mm gun. It can also carry additional ammunition for extended missions. The armament space is located aft of the cockpit - towards the tail of the aircraft.
The helicopter can be armed with external weapons and will be equipped with a variety of sensors to support reconnaissance and light attack missions.
Engine / propulsion
The S-97 Raider will be powered by a single engine. The pusher type clutched propeller will enable the helicopter to fly at speeds up to 220kt. The dash speed will be more than 240kt, which is nearly double that of a conventional helicopter. An auxiliary power unit will also be provided to start the engine.
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