SB>1 DEFIANT, a Sikorsky-Boeing technology demonstrator, has concluded mission profile test flights for the US Army’s future long-range assault aircraft (FLRAA) competition.
The test flights comprised landings in confined areas and operations at low-level.
It confirmed the relevancy of DEFIANT to the FLRAA mission, and demonstrated how DEFIANT will help to enhance survivability, as well as minimise the pilot’s workload.
SB>1 DEFIANT forms the basis of the proposed DEFIANT X weapon system, which is competing against Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor for the competition.
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The FLRAA competition is part of the Army’s future vertical lift programme, and seeks to find a replacement for the service’s UH-60 black hawk fleet.
Sikorsky DEFIANT chief flight test pilot Bill Fell said: “We fully demonstrated DEFIANT’s ability to execute the FLRAA mission profile by flying 236 knots in level flight, then reducing thrust on the propulsor to rapidly decelerate as we approached the confined, and unimproved, landing zone.
“This type of level body deceleration allowed us to maintain situational awareness, and view the landing zone throughout the approach and landing, without the typical nose-up helicopter deceleration.
“This confined area was extremely tight, requiring us to delay descent until nearly over the landing spot, followed by a near-vertical drop. We landed DEFIANT precisely on the objective with little effort as we descended into this narrow hole while maintaining clearance on all sides.”
DEFIANT X uses Sikorsky X2 technology to fly at high speeds and features an X2 coaxial rotor system and pusher prop for better manoeuvrability.
The first flight of the DEFIANT was carried out in 2019, in Florida.