Sikorsky-Boeing has unveiled its concept for the Defiant X rigid coaxial rotorcraft, a contender for the US Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA).
The new helicopter will be pitted against Bell’s V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor in a competition to replace the iconic Black Hawk helicopter.
“The aircraft, named Defiant X, will be the fastest, most maneuverable, and most survivable assault helicopter in history,” Lockheed Martin, the parent firm of Sikorsky, claimed in a statement, adding that the aircraft can fly twice as fast and far as the Black Hawk.
The @Sikorsky @BoeingDefense Team released details of its advanced helicopter for the @USArmy’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (#FLRAA) competition. #DEFIANTX will be the fastest, most maneuverable, and most survivable assault helicopter in history.
— Lockheed Martin News (@lmnews) January 25, 2021
Improvement Over Prototype Unveiled in 2019
Defiant X builds on the capabilities of the team’s technology demonstrator SB>1 Defiant, which took to the sky for the first time two years ago, and was built for the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program.
The latest rendition of the vehicle includes enhancements in design for reduced thermal signature and improved aerodynamics.
Moreover, the helicopter’s flight-control design enables better acceleration and deceleration, making it more maneuverable. This enhances survivability in high-threat air defense environments and allows the aircraft to penetrate enemy defenses while reducing exposure to enemy fire.
Flies Safely in Low Altitude, Obstacle-Rich Environments
The model will also be equipped with an optionally-piloted flight control system, which will enable the crew to fly safely and at high speed through low altitude, obstacle-rich environments, or in degraded, uncertain conditions.
“DEFIANT X is purpose-built for a modernized Army that requires expanded reach, survivability and lethality,” said Steve Parker, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift in the statement.
“This weapon system will give Soldiers unequaled technological advantage and connectivity over adversaries in a multi-domain battlespace.”
Designers expect the helicopter to transform the army’s air assault capability while retaining most of the present tactics, techniques, procedures, training, and infrastructure.
The army is expected to release a request for proposal on FLRAA later this year, with a contract award expected next year.