The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and its many variants have been the backbone of the US Army's helicopter force in decades. Designed during the last major helicopter push procurement pushes of the Army in the 1980s, Black Hawk now flies in some form across all military services. But its scope and speed have been limited factors in the operation of the Army's airborne assaults. And to add to the problem, the Army is missing a scout helicopter that meets the deployment requirements abroad. The Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota is not fighting-so AH-64 Apaches has to play the role of armed scouts with the help of drones.
As a result, the Army had two separate helicopter recovery programs running for the first time since Black Hawk and Apache were in the pipeline. The two programs, emerging from the Army's "Future Vertical Lift program" capabilities, demand replacements of Black Hawk and Kiowa that are "optional to operate" -many suppose they can fly with or without aircrew- as well as being easier to maintain and fly than their predecessors.
The Black Hawk replacement competition, in which the Army is currently calling the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program, is the most fully formed two so far, with two contenders already in the prototype stage. The purpose of the program is to make an aircraft faster, longer, brutally armed, longer, harder, and faster than Black Hawk, whereas at the same time it is easier to spread. And it should be affordable. The target speed for competing designs is around 280 knots (322 miles per hour, or 51
V for Valor
Bell's Textron unit has already taken his opponent air. The V-280 Valor of Bell, an evolution of the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, has been in flight test for more than a year. In January, the V-280 prototype reached 280 flying knots. And Bell officials say they expect Valor to get faster. The V-280 is expected to have a battle range of 920 miles (1480km) -that the Black Hawk.
The advantages of tilt-rotor aircraft are to combine the vertical take-off and landing capability of a helicopter with flight properties of a plane. And Bell has the advantage of having Osprey to help it finish the technology. In the beginning, Osprey-flown Marine Corps and Navy-were harmed by accidents and maintenance issues. But it has become more reliable and is now in force on new Navy missions, including heavy lifting for carrier cargo delivery.
There are reasons that Osprey is not a favorite Army. One is its full wings-including turbine engines that reinforce the rotors-rotate, making the craft more complex and complex and making landing zones more jet-blasted and dusty. Valor fixes some of the Osprey challenges by simply rotors of its rotors and not the entire assembly engine of the turbine-meaning it will kick up less dust and not set fire to the grassy landing zone . It is lighter and potentially less expensive than V-22.
Locking X foils in attack position
in the competition is the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant. Defiant is an evolution of the X-2 experimental helicopter and the S-97 Raider, both of which are used rotors based on what Sikorsky called the Advancing Blade Concept, a design that uses contra-rotating rigid rotors for the lift and pusher propeller much to thrust. The design of sturdy propellers helps with aerodynamic issues with limited helicopter speed in the past.
The X-2, the first Advancing Blade Concept helicopter, accidentally broke the record speed for the rotary-wing aircraft in 2010 by flying at 250 knots (287 miles per hour). The Raider, built within Sikorsky, was originally targeted at Kiowa in exchange for the Army's effort-now the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program. It fits both footprint like Kiowa but can carry up to six troops in addition to pilots and co-pilots.
Defiant is still fly-present, its prototype is on ground testing. But the Raider has already been flown and cruising speed reaches more than 200 knots (by comparison, Black Hawk's maximum speed is 159 knots, or 183 miles per hour.) When level the flight, the Raider is acting as a commercial jet rather than a helicopter: the controls of collective locks in its ideal position, and the pilot will fly the helicopter exclusively on the cyclic stick. Stick control allows the pilot to control the pitch of the rear propeller and manipulate the flight-level velocity-or to fly the aircraft back with a negative pitch. And the combination of sturdy rotors and rear thrust makes Raider more agile than other helicopters.
The Raider is designed to withstand long forces of up to three times the gravity of Earth's aerial view of Airwolf, without the 1980s soundtrack, incredible Mach 1 speed, and all-you-can-fire missiles .
Sikorsky works with the updated Raider design for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program that meets new Army specifications. The Army is looking for an aircraft with the highest footprint of 40 feet wide-less than the main diameter of the rotor of 34 feet of the Raider. Bell is likely to build a Valor-based design for the motion monitoring program as well, but the company has not shared any of its bid details yet.
List of images by Textron Bell