Sikorsky, September 26, 2013 - STRATFORD, Connecticut - Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., this week begins final assembly of the prototype S-97 Raider helicopter following acceptance of the fuselage structure from Aurora Flight Sciences.
Consisting of an integrated cockpit, cabin and tail cone, the composite fuselage arrived September 20 at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., where the company will complete a light tactical rotorcraft designed to outmatch conventional military helicopters in speed, maneuverability, payload, range, and high altitude operations.
“The first fuselage marks a significant milestone for the industry-funded Raider helicopter program,” said Debra Zampano, Sikorsky S-97 Raider Program Director. “Aurora has delivered an advanced composite aerostructure designed for our rapid development program. The Sikorsky team is now ready for final assembly of the prototype Raider aircraft. We look forward to showcasing the aircraft’s exceptional performance and value to the U.S. military.”
Sikorsky will convert the fuselage into a 36-foot-long, 11,000-lb.-gross weight S-97 Raider prototype aircraft. Configured to Sikorsky’s X2 coaxial design, the fly-by-wire controlled helicopter will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for lift and forward flight, and a pusher propeller for high speed acceleration and deceleration.
Sikorsky proved the efficiency of the rigid rotor co-axial design in 2010 when its 6,000-lb. gross weight X2 demonstrator helicopter achieved 250 knot flight speed, or twice the speed of conventional helicopters. It also demonstrated low pilot workload and low acoustic signature. The Raider prototype aircraft will improve on the X2 demonstrator by showcasing precision maneuvers in low flight speed, high G turning maneuvers at over 200 knots, hot day hover performance at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, and significant improvements in payload and flight endurance compared with conventional light tactical helicopters.
Aurora Flight Sciences is one of 36 industry teammates fabricating components for the Sikorsky-led Raider program. The mostly carbon fiber fuselage structure was fabricated at Aurora’s manufacturing facility in Bridgeport, W. Va.
“The Raider fuselage was designed around a set of rigorous requirements necessary for this next-generation aircraft,” said Aurora President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Cherry. “We applied our experience developing the composite main rotor pylon for the Sikorsky-built CH-53K heavy lift helicopter, and consequently our understanding of Sikorsky’s design and manufacturing methodologies, to influence the Raider fuselage’s preliminary and detailed designs, and subsequent development of the associated tooling.”
From the start of conceptual design in late 2010, Sikorsky has pushed development of the S-97 Raider helicopter within a rapid timeline. Sikorsky intends to begin demonstrating the Raider helicopter’s game-changing flight capabilities to the U.S. military and other potential customers in 2015.
“Sikorsky chose its teammates in 2011 based on their capability to deliver mature advanced technology products and systems,” said Mark Miller, Sikorsky’s Vice President of Research & Engineering. “Following completion of a system-level critical design review in early 2013, the entire Raider team has moved quickly into parts fabrication. We thank Aurora for delivering a fuselage on which we can build an aircraft with a generational leap in performance capability.”
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.