Lockheed Martin unveiled Raider X design as the company’s entrant for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competitive Prototype program.
The aircraft design was showcased during the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) on October 14 in Washington. According to the company, the “agile, lethal and survivable compound coaxial helicopter” is specifically designed for securing vertical lift dominance against threats on the future battlefield.
FARA is part of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) initiative, a program to put a new generation of helicopters into service by 2030. The other key part of the FVL is the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), designed to primarily replace the aging UH-60 Black Hawk, built by Sikorsky, and AH-64 Apache, built by Boeing. The Army awarded $3.9 billion worth contracts to the firms this April to develop the FARA. The contractors expect to have a competitive fly-off with their competing designs in 2023.
In September 2019, the companies were reportedly asked to incorporate special forces support roles performed by the MH-6 Little Bird into their designs.
According to the company, the “agile, lethal and survivable compound coaxial helicopter” is specifically designed for securing vertical lift dominance against threats on the future battlefield.
Sikorsky's Raider X prototype has a X2 rigid rotor for better maneuverability, enhanced low-speed hover, off-axis hover, and level acceleration and braking. The coaxial rotors allow the Raider X design to reach advertised speeds in excess of 250 knots (over 287mph, or 463km/h) at altitudes greater than 9,000 feet.
The rotorcraft also features Modern open systems architecture (MOSA)-based avionics and mission systems, offering "plug-and-play" options for computing, sensors, survivability and weapons. Flight controls optimization and vibration mitigation are also present. The aircraft boasts of low-speed and high speed manoeuvrability enveloping out to more than 60 degrees angle of bank, and Aeronautical Design Standard-33B Level 1 handling qualities, Lockheed Martin said.
“Sikorsky is prepared to manufacture Raider X as the US Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft. It combines the best elements of low-speed helicopter performance with the cruise performance of an airplane," said Sikorsky experimental test pilot Bill Fell, a retired Army pilot who has flown nearly every RAIDER test flight.
"Every flight we take in our S-97 Raider today reduces risk and optimizes our FARA prototype, RAIDER X," fell said.