Aircraft

Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant helicopter makes maiden flight

Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant h...
The Defiant made its first flight at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility on Thursday
The Defiant made its first flight at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility on Thursday
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Defiant diagram
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Defiant diagram
The Defiant made its first flight at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility on Thursday
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The Defiant made its first flight at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility on Thursday
The Defiant can fly at twice the speed of conventional helicopters
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The Defiant can fly at twice the speed of conventional helicopters

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant helicopter has taken to the air for the first time at the Sikorsky facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Designed to have twice the speed and range of conventional rotorcraft, the demonstrator aircraft is part of the US Army's Future Vertical Lift program and will be used to develop the next generation of assault and transport helicopters for the US Army and US Marine Corps.

Developed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, the Defiant is based on Sikorsky's X2 platform and is a joint multi-role medium-class demonstrator that features a lift system using two coaxial main rotors and a rear-mounted pusher propulsor to solve the problem of retreating blade stall. By using two main rotors that spin in opposite directions, the Defiant counters the tendency of helicopter blades to generate uneven lift forces at high speeds, which severely limits the capabilities of current rotorcraft.

The Defiant is taking part in the US Army's Joint Multi-Role-Medium Technology Demonstrator program and Lockheed and Boeing say that Thursday's flight is a significant milestone. Utility helicopters based on the Defiant are expected to enter service in the early 2030s and will provide the US Army and Marines with more cost effective helicopters that can fly longer and faster. They will also be more maneuverable and enjoy a greater degree of survivability as they are used to create gaps in complex Anti-Access Area Denial systems against near-peer adversaries.

Defiant diagram
Defiant diagram

"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," says Dan Spoor, vice president, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift. "This design provides for exceptional performance in the objective area, where potential enemy activity places a premium on maneuverability, survivability and flexibility. We are thrilled with the results of today's flight and look forward to an exciting flight test program."

The video below shows the Defiant taking to the air for the first time.

Sources: Lockheed Martin, Boeing

Sikorsky-Boeing #SB1 Defiant Completes First Flight

6 comments
guzmanchinky
Ok that is just amazing. How does it compare to the tilt rotor Osprey design?
Howe
Awesome aircraft, that said, I want the superior aircraft to win (cough V-280 Valor cough)
michael_dowling
It will be safer than the Osprey,which is a deathtrap if one of it's rotors fails. This thing could at least auto-rotate down to a safe landing if it had engine problems. I think a better solution to fast VTOL craft is the Carter Aviation Technology slow rotor design. The helicopter in this video shares it's complex transmission with all other copters,and is extremely expensive to service,and presents a transmission/engine danger of failure. The autogyro uses an unpowered rotor by contrast,and is therefore much safer to operate and cheaper to maintain.
Com
Ready for use in early 2030? Is that a mistake?
Towerman
Once i've seen the RAH-66 back when it was first in prototype phase. All other helicopters looked liked overly bulked, ugly square boxes, including this one. Bring back the RAH-66 with improvements. Then we'd get excited.
Ralf Biernacki
After all these years, it's back to the original helicopter design, with counter-rotating rotors. While the concept and its potential performance breakthrough is exciting, the language sets my teeth on edge---an unholy mix of corporate jargon (significant milestone, places a premium, performance in the objective area) and military jargon (near peer adversaries, joint multi-role demonstrator, anti-access systems), with a sprinkling of tech terms (retreating blade stall) added. It's understandable, but hovers just this side of farcical.