Sikorsky S-97 Raider spins up coaxial rotors on maiden flight
Sikorsky's S-97 Raider prototype helicopter, which was revealed to the world last year, has taken to the air for the firsttime. Based on the design of the X2 Technology Demonstrator, the S-97 Raiderfeatures coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller and isintended as a multi-mission aircraft to replace the US Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warriorhelicopter and the Special Forces’ MH-6 Little Bird.
While Sikorsky anticipates it will be capable ofcruise speeds of up to 240 knots (276 mph, 444 km/h), and the X2 demonstrator achieved a speed of250 knots (288 mph, 463 km/h) in 2010, the S-97 Raider's first flight was limited to a series ofmaneuvers intended to test its hover and low-speed capabilities. With pilotBill Fell and co-pilot Kevin Bredenbeck at the controls, the maiden flight atSikorsky's Development Flight Center (DFC) in Florida lasted around an hour.
Having successfully completed its first flight, theS-97 Raider prototype will now move onto more progressive flight testingintended to demonstrate capabilities critical to a variety of potential combat missions,including armed reconnaissance, light assault, light attack and specialoperations.
Sikorsky has a demonstration tour planned for the S-97Raider in 2016. A second prototype is also currently under construction, and isset to be completed by the end of this year.