Defiant coaxial helicopter makes first flight


The SB1 Defiant helicopter achieved its first flight at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Florida testing site on March 21.

The aircraft, which is being developed by Sikorsky-Boeing as part of the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift program.

The Defiant started ground tests in February 2019.

David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager of Boeing vertical lift said, “The design and development of Defiant has revealed the capability advancement that is truly possible for Future Vertical Lift.”

“Clearly, the performance, speed and agility of Defiant will be a game changer on the battlefield and we look forward to demonstrating for the US Army the tremendous capabilities of this aircraft.”

Defiant features two coaxial main rotors and a rear mounted pusher propulsor provides an increase in speed and range while improving maneuverability and survivability.

Dan Spoor, vice president of Sikorsky future vertical lift said, “Defiant is designed to fly at nearly twice the speed and has twice the range of conventional helicopters while retaining the very best, if not better, low-speed and hover performance of conventional helicopters.

“This design provides for exceptional performance in the objective area, where potential enemy activity places a premium on maneuverability, survivability and flexibility. We are thrilled with the results of the flight and look forward to an exciting flight test program.”

Data from Defiant’s flight test program will help the US Army develop the requirements for new utility helicopters expected to enter service in the early 2030s.

The Defiant is one of two helicopters being developed as part of the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift program, which aims to develop a successor for the Blackhawk and Apache helicopters

Bell’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor helicopter is also progressing through its testing program and recently reached its nominal cruising speed of 280 knots during flight tests.


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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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