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A Sikorsky-Boeing team unveiled its new helicopter offering — dubbed the Defiant X — for the US Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft initiative.
The FLRAA project is aimed at developing a platform that will replace the aging Black Hawks. It is part of the service’s future vertical lift modernization portfolio, designed to develop a family of military helicopters for the US Armed Forces. Future Vertical Lift is one of the Army’s top three modernization priorities being spearheaded by Army Futures Command as the service prepares for great power competition with China and Russia.
The Sikorsky-Boeing team was originally tapped to build a technology demonstrator, the SB-1 Defiant, as part of a precursor effort for FLRAA.
After garnering feedback and working with the service to inform requirements for the new capability, Sikorsky and Boeing created the modified, competition-ready aircraft design – Defiant X.
A few of the main differences between the SB-1 Defiant technology demonstrator and the company’s new offering include: enhancements that reduce the aircraft’s thermal signature and improve aerodynamic handling; tricycle landing gear to improve stability and taxiing in austere environments; and increased maneuverability through flight controls integrated with autonomy capabilities, according to Jay Macklin, business development director for future vertical lift at Sikorsky.
Lockheed and Boeing are claiming that, as of now, Defiant X is the only offering that can sling-load equipment during missions “at an operationally relevant distance.”
Although the aircraft will be able to fly farther and faster than the UH-60 Black Hawk, the new offering shares enough characteristics with the legacy system to minimize changes required for pilot training.
The Sikorsky-Boeing team isn’t the only industry player developing a new platform for the FLRAA initiative. A Bell-Textron team has also built an aircraft, the V-280 Valor, for the tech demonstrator effort, according to nationaldefensemagazine.org.