Sikorsky X2 Light Helicopter Demonstrator, United States of America

Sikorsky X2 light helicopter demonstrator

Sikorsky X2 is a demonstrator aircraft developed by Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies.

This light tactical helicopter can be deployed in a range of military missions. The multimission capabilities of the X2 allow it to conduct attack, armed reconnaissance, close-air support, combat search and rescue (SAR) and unmanned operations.

Sikorsky X2 helicopter features

"In June 2005, Sikorsky Aircraft announced the development of an integrated suite of technologies known as X2 Technology."

The X2 incorporates advanced technologies. The aircraft is fitted with an integrated fly-by-wire system. The system allows the engine, rotor and propulsor to operate efficiently, with full control of rotor rpm during the flight envelope.

The demonstrator also features high lift-to-drag rigid blades, low drag hub fairings and an active vibration control mechanism.

The aircraft can be used as a flying wind tunnel to find out the aerodynamic interaction between the main rotor and propeller, shaft angle optimisation for performance and blade tip clearance for a range of manoeuvres.

This will further optimise the usage of the X2 Technology suite for next generation products.

Development of Sikorsky Aircraft's helicopter

In June 2005, Sikorsky Aircraft announced the development of an integrated suite of technologies known as X2 Technology. The project is funded entirely by Sikorsky. The demonstrator aircraft based on X2 Technology took its maiden flight in August 2008.

The helicopter performed manoeuvres such as hovers, forward flight and hover turns during the 30 minute test flight. In July 2009, the aircraft accomplished flights with its pusher-propeller fully engaged.

"Multimission capabilities of the X2 allow it to conduct attack, armed reconnaissance, close-air support, combat search and rescue (SAR) and unmanned operations."

In September 2010, the aircraft achieved 250kt cruise speeds in level flight and set an unofficial speed record for a helicopter. In March 2010, Sikorsky submitted an X2 aircraft design to the armed aerial scout (AAS) programme of the US Army in response to a request for information. The AAS programme is currently analysing the alternatives for the next armed reconnaissance helicopter of the US Army.

Next-generation armed reconnaissance helicopters

Sikorsky Aircraft will design and build two prototype light tactical helicopters as a follow-on to the X2 Technology demonstrator aircraft. Designated as the Raider X2, the prototypes will help military aviation to evaluate the performance of fast and manoeuvrable next generation rotor-craft suitable for a range of combat missions. The X2 will be followed by the S-97 Raider helicopter variant.

The preliminary design review for the S-97 Raider was completed in December 2011 and its maiden flight is planned for 2014.

The X2 Raider prototypes will be fitted with a pusher-propeller and twin coaxial counter-rotating main rotors, replacing one main rotor and a tail rotor. The development of the next-generation rotary wing technology allowed Sikorsky to select suppliers for the high speed X2 prototype aircraft intended for flight test and evaluation by the US Army.

Eagle Aviation Technologies is supplying main rotor blades and other composite hardware, while Goodrich Corporation is providing the SmartProbe air data system and engineering support for the X2 demonstrator. Hamilton Sundstrand is responsible for the flight control computers, active vibration control and engineering support.

The Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC) is providing engines and engineering support. Moog is involved in active vibration actuation, consignment MU / EU components and engineering support.

Cockpit and cabin of the Sikorsky X2 demonstrator aircraft

The X2 has a two-seat cockpit. Telemetry instrumentation can be incorporated in the rear of the cockpit.

The cockpit is installed with fly-by-wire controls and advanced avionics to counter high vibration levels.

Additional space is provided aft of the cockpit for armament and auxiliary fuel. The cabin can accommodate up to six troops in an assault configuration.

Engine and performance of the light tactical helicopter

The X2 demonstrator is powered by the T800-LHT-801 engine developed by LHTEC, a 50/50 partnership between Rolls-Royce and Honeywell.

Originally developed for the cancelled Sikorsky / Boeing RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter of the US Army, the engine produces a power output of 1,563shp.

It drives a six-bladed pusher-type propeller and two four-bladed co-axial rotors.

The X2 helicopter can fly at a maximum speed of 260kt and a cruise speed of 250kt. It has a maximum range of 1,300km. The maximum take-off weight of the helicopter is 3,600kg.

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