Sikorsky Aircraft started the final assembly of the second S-97 Raider helicopter in West Palm Beach on 4 March 2015, Florida, the company announced.
The new helicopter is a coaxial rotor prototype aimed to serve as armed reconnaissance and special operations platform. The project was launched in October 2010, when the X2 design was mature enough to show its potential to the US Army. X2 technology was then put into the S-97. The government has so far not made any funds available to the Raider project, but Sikorsky is confident the machine will sell and works together with partners, like Aurora Flight Sciences of Manassas in Virginia that makes the all-composite fuselage.
Test flights of the second Raider prototype are planned to commence this year, with its first demonstrations flights in 2016. According to calculations and tests with the X2 the new chopper should be able to reach cruise speeds above 220 knots (253 mph / 407 kmh).
Featured image: PR image of the X2 and the new S-97 Raider (Image © Sikorsky)