The industry teaming of Sikorsky and Boeing have revealed an updated concept of its SB>1 DEFIANT coaxial rotor demonstrator it is pitching for the future long-range assault aircraft (FLRAA) requirement of the US Army’s larger future vertical lift (FVL) program.
Dubbed DEFIANT X, the revised concept features design enhancements adopted following a flight test program of the SB>1 Defiant demonstrator. Designed to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk family in US Army service, the Sikorsky/Boeing team says the DEFIANT X can fly twice as fast and has twice the range of the Black Hawk.
The aircraft features a rigid coaxial rotor system and pusher propeller, a large cabin for 12 fully-equipped soldiers, radar cross section reduction shaping on the tail boom and forward fuselage and reduced thermal signatures, a composite fuselage, fly-by-wire flight control system, and a retractable tricycle undercarriage.
“We are ready to deliver unparalleled capabilities backed by proven technologies that will truly transform the Army’s mission today, with room to grow and adapt to the missions of tomorrow,” Sikorsky’s vice president of Future Vertical Lift, Andy Adams said in a statement. “DEFIANT X not only includes the transformational aircraft – a manoeuvrable, survivable, lethal weapon system – it also leverages Sikorsky’s and Boeing’s advanced manufacturing capabilities.”
Australian Steve Parker, Boeing Vertical Lift vice president and general manager added, “DEFIANT X is purpose-built for a modernised Army that requires expanded reach, survivability and lethality. This weapon system will give soldiers unequalled technological advantage and connectivity over adversaries in a multi-domain battle space.”
Competing against the DEFIANT X is Bell’s V-280 Valor, a tilt-rotor design that resembles the V-22 Osprey. Both Bell and Sikorsky/Boeing were awarded joint multi-role technology demonstration (JMR TD) and follow-on competitive demonstration and risk reduction effort (CDRR) contracts by the US Army to develop their proposals including building flying prototypes.
The US Army is expected to release a request for proposal by mid-2021, and award a contract for the successful design in 2022. Service entry is slated for 2028.