Aircraft

Boeing and Sikorsky to team up on X2-based rotorcraft for U.S. Army

Artist’s rendering of the JMR-FVL concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Sikorsky
Artist’s rendering of the JMR-FVL concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Sikorsky
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Artist’s rendering of the JMR-FVL concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Sikorsky
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Artist’s rendering of the JMR-FVL concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Sikorsky

Sikorsky’s coaxial X2 Demonstrator may have taken its last flight, but the rotorcraft’s design will serve as the basis for a new aircraft proposed by Sikorsky and Boeing. The companies will submit a joint proposal to build the new aircraft for Phase 1 of the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) program that aims to deliver the next generation of vertical lift utility and attack aircraft.

Sikorsky’s X2 Demonstrator, which made its first flight in August 2008, is notable for its coaxial rotor design that sees its two main rotors counter-rotating on the same vertical axis. This configuration, coupled with a “pusher prop” at the rear of the aircraft supplying auxiliary propulsion and an advanced fly-by-wire system, helped the X2 set an unofficial world speed record for a helicopter on September 15, 2010, when it reached a speed of 250 knots (288 mph, 463 km/h) in level flight.

It is this proven design that Samir Mehta, president of Sikorsky Military Systems, says Boeing and Sikorsky will leverage to deliver an aircraft with an “efficient 230-knot (265 mph, 426 km/h) cruise airspeed, improved hover efficiency, and weigh-optimized design in an affordable package.” He added that the design would “offer the Army reduced risk, a 100-knot improvement in speed, a 60 percent improvement in combat radius, and 50 percent better high-hot hover performance."

The two companies will share leadership on the project, with Sikorsky taking the lead for the JMR TD Phase 1 proposal and Boeing taking the reins for Phase 2, which is the mission systems demonstrator program.

Phase 1 proposals must be presented to the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate by March 6, with the one or more winning bids expected to be announced in late 2013. The demonstrator aircraft will be expected to be in the air in 2017.

Sources: Boeing, Sikorsky

16 comments
VoiceofReason
Nothing new about this. The AH-56 Cheyenne hit 244mph in level flight 40 years ago now. Same basic system, just not twin rotors.
Derek Howe
awesome, this helo blows the old blackhawks outta the water. Hopefully it becomes a reality with all the US' budget woes.
Kevin Thomas
Hitler had a design very simular to this...
Marke
The AH-56 Cheyenne hit 244mph in level flight 40 years ago now. Same basic system, just not twin rotors. VoiceofReason3rd March, 2013 @ 08:31 pm PST Dang right ... with stub wings rather than twin contra-rotors ... similar performance, very advanced setup for the time ... makes you wonder how these decisions get made .. suddenly its good again? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JikYhxN-awk This is good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2lTuLF40BI&feature=player_embedded
StWils
"Similar in Appearance" is not that big a deal. The venerable DC3 is still one of the best aircraft ever built and many built during WWII are still flying. The big difference here is that steady technological innovation will enable an aircraft that is lighter, stiffer, much stronger, with vastly improved controls and behaviour, coupled with far better operability and maintainability than preceding aircraft. The UH1 Huey is a great chopper but it needed something like 8 hours of maintenance for every 16 hours flying. The Blackhawk's numbers are far better. This design has contrarotating rotors that historically have always flown well but been severe maintenance problems. If the wear & tear issues go away with modern materials then the low speed hover failure that knocked down the SF Chopper that crashed on landing on Bin Laden's crib might just be a bad memory. Finally, many aircraft, such the Huey and the DC3 would be even better if refreshed in modern materials, manufacturing technique, modern digital avionics, etc.
dugnology
The AH-56 Cheyenne and the AH-66 Comanche project were both technologically ahead of their times and very costly projects. The Cheyenne's range and speed were the result of using the wings to unload the rotor, resulting in more of a gyro than an helo at speed. It would be interesting in adding wings to this x-2 technology, but it really depends on the mission. The wings and a pusher prop do nothing for hot, high hover requirements. Both of these helos required an anti-torque rotor which the X-2 does not, a big benefit when it comes to noise, safety and complexity.
H Robinson
According to the spokeperserson at the Honda Classic where this baby was on disply yesterday, they have $70 million in this baby and still know orders. The twin counterrotating blades and 5 blade pusher at the rear makes it the fastest bird in the sky.
Slowburn
While I see no reason for this to fail, I would prefer to see the Army looking at either something with the layout of the Eurocopter X-3 or a new tilt-rotor (non-folding airframe, and at least 9-bladed rotors) The V-22 suffers from poor design decisions made to make her carrier compatible. re; Doug Halkenhauser The real reason the AH-56 Cheyenne was killed was that the Air Force objected to the Army having a propeller driven fixed wing attack plane at the same time as the aircraft was having control problems. Congress sided with the Air Force. The RAH-66 Comanche aside from supposing to being a stealth aircraft was a conventional helicopter. had it been as stealthy as it was advertised to be probably would have survived the mismanagement and cost overruns.
Stephen N Russell
any chance for civilian use IE air tours over Hawaii.
Marke
StWils 4th March, 2013 @ 09:42 am PST "....steady technological innovation will enable an aircraft that is lighter, stiffer, much stronger, with vastly improved controls and behaviour, coupled with far better operability and maintainability than preceding aircraft...." I think you are correct in that an aircraft designed and built now will be a substantial improvement and contain more advanced technology than one designed and built 40 years ago.