S-97 Raider exceeds speed expectations during flight tests


The Sikorsky S-97 Raider  prototype helicopter is advancing rapidly through its flight test program and has recently achieved a speed of more than 200kts (370km/h).

Conventional helicopters can achieve a top speed of around 130kts (240km/h).

According to Sikorsky-parent company Lockheed Martin, the light tactical helicopter, which is being developed in response to the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition is “exceeding expectations” during testing at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The 11,000 lb (5,000kg) S-97 is based on Lockheed Martin’s X2 Technology and uses Lift-offset coaxial rotors with a pusher propeller and variable speed drive.

Tim Malia, Sikorsky’s director of Future Vertical Lift Light said, “The Sikorsky S-97 Raider flight test program is exceeding expectations, demonstrating Raider’s revolutionary speed, maneuverability and agility.

“X2 represents a suite of technologies needed for the future fight, enabling the warfighter to engage in high-intensity conflict anytime, anywhere as a member of a complex, multi-domain team.”

The S-97 Raider uses advances in fly-by-wire flight controls, vehicle management systems and systems integration, enabling the aircraft to operate at high speeds while maintaining the low-speed handling of conventional single main rotor helicopters.

Sikorsky experimental test pilot Bill Fell said, “It’s exciting to achieve these high speeds with X2 Technology. It’s undeniably important for the warfighter to get to the mission fast. And once they get there, X2 Technology provides the critical handling qualities that make the aircraft survivable, lethal and agile.

“Sikorsky X2 Technology changes the way we fly and fight – we can get there fast, be more effective while on the scene and we can get out fast.”

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About Author


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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