Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies, has begun bladed ground testing of its new S-97 Raider helicopter.
According to Sikorsky, the S-97 Raider helicopter is a new armed reconnaissance rotarcraft designed to significantly outmatch conventional military helicopters in manoeuvrability, payload, speed and range.
It has also been designed for optimal performance at high and low altitudes and in hot conditions.
Sikorsky is aiming to develop the aircraft to be capable of flying at speeds of up to 250 knots (287mph).
“Testing all of the aircraft’s systems together, for the first time, marks significant progress in the development of this next generation helicopter and moves the program closer to first flight,” said S-97 Raider program manager Mark Hammond.
During the ground runs phase, the S-97 Raider team is testing the first of two aircraft prototypes as a completed system for the first time. The team will perform initial ground tests with the aircraft tied down and will focus on ensuring correct operation of the propulsion system, drive train, rotor control system and pilot-vehicle interface.
This testing comes on the heels of the recent successful completion of software qualification testing, component fatigue testing, and gearbox testing, for the first S-97 Raider prototype.
Sikorsky launched the S-97 Raider program in October 2010 with the objectives of maturing the X2 rotorcraft design and offering a helicopter to meet US Army reconnaissance and special operations needs.
In addition to ground runs for the first prototype, the program team at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, is prepared to begin final assembly of the second prototype S-97 Raider helicopter, following acceptance last month of the fuselage structure from Aurora Flight Sciences.
“We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the Raider’s revolutionary performance and unmatched manoeuvrability for the U.S. Army,” said Steve Engebretson, Director, Advanced Military Programs. “We’re delivering on our promise to design and build a helicopter with performance capabilities not seen before.”