Sikorsky's S-97 Raider prototype helicopter, which was revealed to the world last year, has taken to the air for the first time. Based on the design of the X2 Technology Demonstrator, the S-97 Raider features coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller and is intended as a multi-mission aircraft to replace the US Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter and the Special Forces’ MH-6 Little Bird.

While Sikorsky anticipates it will be capable of cruise speeds of up to 240 knots (276 mph, 444 km/h), and the X2 demonstrator achieved a speed of 250 knots (288 mph, 463 km/h) in 2010, the S-97 Raider's first flight was limited to a series of maneuvers intended to test its hover and low-speed capabilities. With pilot Bill Fell and co-pilot Kevin Bredenbeck at the controls, the maiden flight at Sikorsky's Development Flight Center (DFC) in Florida lasted around an hour.

UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS

More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.

UPGRADE

Having successfully completed its first flight, the S-97 Raider prototype will now move onto more progressive flight testing intended to demonstrate capabilities critical to a variety of potential combat missions, including armed reconnaissance, light assault, light attack and special operations.

Sikorsky has a demonstration tour planned for the S-97 Raider in 2016. A second prototype is also currently under construction, and is set to be completed by the end of this year.

Source: Sikorsky

View gallery - 2 images