WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., 17 July 2011. One of the fastest helicopter prototypes ever developed, the Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator, is being retired after making its final flight last Thursday. The X2 has served its purpose, and the technological lessons learned from the prototype are blending into the Sikorsky S-97 Raider helicopter program, which Sikorsky will propose for the U.S. Army's future Armed Aerial Scout program.The X2 demonstrator, built by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, Conn., flew about 22 total flight hours and achieved a maximum cruise speed of 253 knots in level flight on Sept. 15, 2010 -- an unofficial speed record for a conventional helicopter, Sikorsky officials say. The last X2 flight was at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.Technologies developed in the X2's lifetime include fly-by-wire flight controls, counter-rotating rigid rotor blades, hub drag reduction, active vibration control, and integrated auxiliary propulsion system. These technologies will go into the Sikorsky S-97 Raider proposed high-speed scout and attack helicopter for the Army Armed Aerial Scout program, for which the Army is expected to issue a formal request for proposals in 2014.
Three industry teams so far have lined up candidate aircraft for the Armed Aerial Scout program -- the Sikorsky S-97; the AAS-72X from a consortium of EADS North America, American Eurocopter, and Lockheed Martin; and the OH-58D/AVX from the AVX Aircraft Co. in Fort Worth, Texas.
The X2 technology program began in 2005 when Sikorsky began investing $50 million for the program. The X2 program won the 2010 Robert J. Collier Trophy earlier this year for American achievement in aeronautics. The X2 demonstrator can cruise comfortably at 250 knots with low-speed handling, efficient hovering, and a seamless transition to high speed.
Similar to the X2 prototype, the Sikorsky S-97 Raider helicopter will have twin coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller for cruise at 220 knots. In addition to scout and attack, the X2 prototype also could lend itself to new generations of combat search and rescue, medical evacuation, VIP transport, and offshore oil helicopters.
For more information contact Sikorsky online at www.sikorsky.com, the EADS-American Eurocopter-Lockheed Martin AAS-72X consortium at www.aas-72x.com, or AVX Aircraft at www.avxaircraft.com.