Sikorsky has announced a scout and attack development of its X2 high speed compound helicopter, dubbed the S-97.
Like the X2 demonstrator which recently exceeded 250kt in level flight, the S-97 will feature a coaxial main rotor and a rear-mounted pusher propeller, and will carry troops and air-to-surface weapons. The company says it will self-fund two full scale demonstrators which are due to fly before the end of 2014 that will be capable of flying faster than 200kt in cruise and 220kt in a dash, and Sikorsky hopes to market the aircraft to the US Army as an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior light armed reconnaissance helicopter replacement.
“Having proved the X2 Technology design to ourselves, we have full confidence we can now mature the technology for the US Army’s light armed reconnaissance helicopter size,” said Sikorsky president Jeffrey Pino. “Self funding the design of a brand new light tactical helicopter – the Sikorsky S-97 – and manufacturing two prototypes we have designated as the Raider X2 helicopter, will help military aviation evaluate the viability of a fast and manoeuvrable next generation rotorcraft for a variety of combat missions.”
The company unveiled a full-scale mockup of the S-97 at an event on October 20. The S-97 will weigh in at 4965kg and will be able to carry six fully equipped troops and hover at altitude. Sikorsky is also expected to pitch the aircraft at the special operations community, and cites the S-97’s comparatively quiet operations compared to conventional helicopters fitted with tail rotors.