Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky and Boeing have performed the first flight of their SB>1 DEFIANT helicopter in Florida, US.

The flight was carried out at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility and represents a major milestone for the Sikorsky and Boeing team.

The SB>1 DEFIANT helicopter is participating in the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role-Medium Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) programme.

JMR TD plays a key role in helping the army develop requirements for new utility helicopters as part of the Future Vertical Lift programme.

Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift vice-president Dan Spoor said: “DEFIANT is designed to fly at nearly twice the speed and has twice the range of conventional helicopters while retaining the very best, if not better low-speed and hover performance of conventional helicopters.

“The performance, speed, and agility of DEFIANT will be a game changer on the battlefield and we look forward to demonstrating for the US Army the capabilities of this aircraft.”

“This design provides for exceptional performance in the objective area, where potential enemy activity places a premium on manoeuvrability, survivability and flexibility. We are thrilled with the results of today’s flight and look forward to an exciting flight test programme.”

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Developed based on Sikorsky’s X2 Technology rotorcraft design, the helicopter is equipped with two coaxial main rotors and a rear-mounted pusher propeller for high-speed acceleration and deceleration and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system.

SB>1 DEFIANT is Sikorsky’s third X2 aircraft in less than ten years. X2 Technology is designed for speed, range, manoeuvrability and scalability.

Boeing Vertical Lift vice-president and general manager David Koopersmith said: “Clearly, the performance, speed, and agility of DEFIANT will be a game changer on the battlefield and we look forward to demonstrating for the US Army the tremendous capabilities of this aircraft.”

The new utility helicopters are expected to be operational in the early 2030s.