Lockheed Maritn and Sikorsky have unveiled their very different concept for a military helicopter – the SB>1 Defiant.
According to a statement from Sikorsky, the new aircraft is designed to fly twice as fast as today’s conventional helicopters while boasting “advanced agility and manoeuvrability.”
The craft is designed for a crew of four and has a cabin which can carry 12 combat-ready troops or eight medevac litters.
There are plans for an alternate version which will share many of the same features like the fly-by-wire drivetrain but will have a different fuselage and more armor. This variation will be more of an attack ship.
The two firms jointly announced that the new helicopter will meet the Army’s needs for attack and assault missions while servicing the Marine’s “long-range transportation, infiltration, and resupply missions.” They called the capabilities of the new vehicle “unmatched” for the needs of the US military.
In a video clip, the SB>1 Defiant was shown cruising at 250 knots and hovering at 6,000 feet.
The rotor blades are foldable and ridged. They are designed to create less downwash when coming down to the ground to pick up troops or supplies.
The cabin size is another improvement over the Blackhawk. The Blackhawk can carry 11 troops while the Defiant can carry 12 comfortably.
Retired Marine Major Frank P. Conway was Sikorsky’s experimental test pilot for both the SB>1 Defiant and the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor. He said that the main benefits of the new helicopter are the increased speed and range and the improved manoeuvrability and agility.
In his words, the SB>1 Defiant is a “hot, sexy aircraft.”
Sikorsky is a division of Lockheed Martin. They are partnering with Boeing on the SB>1 Defiant and on the Future Vertical Lift Medium.
The cruising speed of the Defiant is over 100 miles-per-hour faster than the UH-60M Blackhawk. The Blackhawk has a top speed of 183 miles-per-hour.
The Defiant will also have increased power to carry more cargo than average helicopters. Lockheed has not released payload capacity or range numbers at this time.
The firm is, however, bragging about their new foldable, ridged composite rotor blades that create less downwash close to the ground.
They also tout the pusher propeller and active rudder which allows pilots more stability when hovering while boosting acceleration and deceleration in flight.
With its dual rotors and rear pusher propeller, it certainly looks the part of a new breed of military aircraft.
Boeing claims to have delivered over 2,200 AH-64 Apache helicopters to the US military and to defense forces around the world.
As of July 2016, the aircraft had accumulated more than 4.2 million flight hours since the first AH-64 was delivered to the US Army in 1984.
The Sikorsky Blackhawk is used in 29 countries around the world and has been in use for 40 years in different variations.
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There are over 4,000 Blackhawks in operation today. The US Army has the most with over 2,000 in their fleet.