Sikorsky rolled out what is very likely to be the newest, hottest chopper on the block – the S-97 Raider military assault helicopter – on 2 October 2014.
In four years time the American helicopter manufacturer put together a new mission helicopter for the US military, using a new so-called X2 rotor coaxial design. The coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and pusher propeller provide impressive cruise speeds up to 220 knots (253 mph), more than double the speed of conventional helicopters.
The Raider will be ideal for armed aerial scout or light assault. Sikorsky will offer the S-97 as a replacement for the US Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter fleet and as a special operations platform.
The single-engine Raider features a composite airframe and a maximum gross weight of slightly more than 11,000 lbs. The aircraft will be capable of carrying an array of weapons and sensors, necessary for the mission. The cockpit will fit two pilots, seated side-by-side. The flexible cabin space will carry up to six combat-equipped troops, or additional fuel and ammunition for extended missions.
Sikorsky provides 75 percent of the investment on the new chopper, while 53 principal suppliers provide the other 25 percent.