The fuselage of the promising S-97 Raider tactical military helicopter (Image © Sikorsky)

S-97 Raider tactical helicopter in final assembly

The fuselage of the promising S-97 Raider tactical military helicopter (Image © Sikorsky)
The fuselage of the promising S-97 Raider tactical military helicopter (Image © Sikorsky)

Sikorsky began final assembly of the prototype S-97 Raider helicopter last week, after Aurora Flight Sciences delivered the fuselage. Aurora is one of the 36 subcontractors of the helicopter. Employees of Sikorsky’s Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida will integrate the other systems into the new tactical helicopter meant mostly for the military market.

The Raider will be 36 feet (about 12 meters) long and its operational weight will be about 11,000 lbs. The S-97 uses technology first implemented on the Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator, including coaxial counter-rotating main rotor blades, fly-by-wire and a pusher propeller for high speed acceleration and deceleration.

Although uncertain how fast the S-97 will be, the X2 achieved 250 knots of flight speed, a lot quicker than what choppers normally can do. Currently the official helicopter speed record of August 11, 1986, still stands when pilot John Egginton was able to reach 216 knots (249.1 miles per hour or almost 401 km/h) in a bare version of the Westland Lynx 800. The S-97 should also be able to hover up to 10,000 feet, even on hot days.

Sikorsky is rapidly developing the S-97, starting as late as 2010 with the design. The company hopes to deliver the first production version already in 2015.

Source: Sikorsky / Guinness Book of Records