Us Army Futureverticallift 800

Boeing, Sikorsky Advancing with New Combat Helicopter

April 19, 2021
The partners are pushing an “adaptable design” with their DEFIANT X medium-lift aircraft, promising speed, range, and maneuverability for the multi-domain operational battlefield.

Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Aircraft have reconfirmed their partnership in the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program, a project to advance combat helicopter technology for an optimized assault aircraft. The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant medium-lift helicopter completed its first flight in 2019, and now the DEFIANT X system is being put through testing and evaluation in digital combat applications.

The Army is expected to select a new combat helicopter design in mid-2022 as the result of its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) program.

The emerging DEFIANT X aircraft is based on Sikorsky’s X2 technology, a high-speed compound helicopter for vertical take-off and landing (featuring coaxial rotors), with a T55 turboshaft engine for flight speeds up to 250 kn (290 mph; 460 km/h.)

DEFIANT X is described as an adaptable design that provides “transformational speed, range and unprecedented maneuverability,” and will provide “full-spectrum convergence of Army and joint operations assets on the multi-domain operational battlefield.”

The Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) program that Boeing and Sikorsky are conducting now will determine the aircraft’s weapon system requirements.

Experts from Sikorsky and Boeing now will proceed to refine the virtual prototype aircraft using digital twin and digital design techniques. Digital design and manufacturing will be adopted to lower the Army’s acquisition cost but allow rapid, affordable upgrades -- to stay ahead of evolving threats.

The partners further noted they are “sharpening and demonstrating” a Modular Open Systems Approach so that the Army can modify and upgrade the DEFIANT X as new needs and opportunities appear.

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