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US Army demonstrates Future Vertical Lift aircraft "Raider" and "Defiant" in action


On July 29, 2020, Lockheed Martin and the Sikorsky and Boeing Team demonstrated Future Vertical Lift aircraft in action, showing how RAIDER and DEFIANT will give the U.S. Army the edge in achieving aviation overmatch.

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US Army demonstrates Future Vertical Lift aircraft Raider and Defiant in action 925 003 Sikorsky–Boeing SB-1 Defiant Compound Helicopter. (Picture source: Lockheed Martin)


According to MilitaryLeaks, Future Vertical Lift (FVL) is a plan to develop a family of military helicopters for the United States Armed Forces. Five different sizes of aircraft are to be developed, sharing common hardware such as sensors, avionics, engines, and countermeasures. The U.S. Army has been considering the program since 2004.

FVL is meant to develop replacements for the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook, and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters. The precursor for FVL is the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) helicopter program.


US Army demonstrates Future Vertical Lift aircraft Raider and Defiant in action 925 002Sikorsky S-97 Raider Compound Helicopter. (Picture source: Lockheed Martin)


The Sikorsky S-97 Raider is a high-speed scout and attack compound helicopter based on the Advancing Blade Concept (ABC) with a coaxial rotor system under development by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky planned to offer it for the United States Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program, along with other possible uses. Manoeuvrability is improved compared with earlier helicopters because of the ability to tilt the coaxial rotors together or tilt each one differently, and because of the variable pitch propulsor and active elevons. At low speed the S-97 manoeuvres by differential torque of the upper and lower rotor, at high speed it uses rudders. The S-97 will be capable of carrying up to six passengers, in addition to a flight crew of two in a side-by-side cockpit.


US Army demonstrates Future Vertical Lift aircraft Raider and Defiant in action 925 001 RAIDER and DEFIANT Military Helicopters Formation Flight. (Picture source: Lockheed Martin)


The Sikorsky–Boeing SB-1 Defiant is the Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing entry for the United States Army’s Future Vertical Lift program, succeeding the Joint Multi-Role initiative. It is a compound helicopter with rigid coaxial rotors, powered by two Honeywell T55s, and made its first flight on 21 March 2019. The design will have a cruise speed of 250 kn (290 mph; 460 km/h), but less range due to using the “old” T55 engine. A new engine, the Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE), is to meet the radius requirement of 229 nmi (264 mi; 424 km). Compared to conventional helicopters, the counter-rotating coaxial main rotors and pusher propeller offer a 100-knot (115 mph; 185 km/h) speed increase, a 60% combat radius extension, and 50% better performance in high-hot hover performance.