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SB>1 Defiant

Lockheed Martin announced on 20 June 2015 that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sikorsky Aircraft for $9.0 billion from United Technologies Corporation. Lockheed Martin acquired Sikorsky in 2015; however, both companies said that they would continue working on the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) demonstrator with their respective teams, “with internal firewalls in place to prevent tainting the competition”.

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 DEFIANT™ helicopter achieved first flight 21 March 2019 at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach, Florida site. This revolutionary aircraft, developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, and Boeing, will help inform the next generation of military helicopters as part of the U.S. Army's Future Vertical Lift program.

"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," said Dan Spoor, vice president, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift. "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 today's flight and look forward to an exciting flight test program."

With its two coaxial main rotors and rear-mounted pusher propulsor, DEFIANT is unlike production rotorcraft available today. It represents a leap forward in technology to achieve the U.S. government's desire for vast increases in speed and range, while improving maneuverability and survivability in a cost-effective way. DEFIANT aircraft's use of X2™ Technology will allow the Army to penetrate from strategic standoff and exploit gaps created in complex Anti-Access Area Denial systems against near-peer adversaries.

"The design and development of DEFIANT has revealed the capability advancement that is truly possible for Future Vertical Lift," said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing 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 U.S. Army the tremendous capabilities of this aircraft."

The helicopter is participating in the Army's Joint Multi-Role-Medium Technology Demonstrator program. Data from DEFIANT will help the Army develop requirements for new utility helicopters expected to enter service in the early 2030s. This flight marks a key milestone for the Sikorsky-Boeing team, and is the culmination of significant design, simulation and test activity to further demonstrate the capability of the X2 Technology.

The US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program supports the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift initiative to deliver the next generation of vertical lift utility and attack aircraft. The Army was expected to select from among four teams at the end of July to proceed with the development of demonstration aircraft, which will fly in 2017.

The Sikorsky-Boeing proposal, the SB>1 Defiant, is based on Sikorsky’s X2 Technology™ rotorcraft design with counter-rotating coaxial main rotors and a pusher propeller, and advanced fly-by-wire system. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. and Boeing were selected 12 August 2014 to build a helicopter for the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator Phase 1 program (JMR TD), paving the way for the next generation of vertical lift aircraft.

The US Army Aviation Technology Directorate (AATD) selected the Sikorsky-Boeing team to continue the development of the SB-1 Defiant, a medium-lift helicopter configured to Sikorsky’s X2™ coaxial design, through flight testing. First flight for the program is expected in 2017.

“Defiant will use Sikorsky’s proven X2 technology to overcome aircraft design challenges, which will be critical requirements on future vertical lift aircraft,” said Mick Maurer, Sikorsky president. “The Sikorsky-Boeing team’s integrated approach has created a unique blend of expertise, innovative spirit and customer commitment that are unmatched in the industry. The complementary capabilities of each team member have delivered a design that will provide the best future vertical lift solution to the US Army, and the flexibility of our design makes it suited for naval applications as well. This is a major leap forward.”

The Defiant aircraft will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for vertical and forward flight, a pusher propeller for high-speed acceleration and deceleration and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system.

“Our team brings leadership and new ways of thinking to aircraft development,” said Shelley Lavender, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. “As the original equipment manufacturers for both the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, we bring tremendous technological breadth and depth to the customer. I believe our technical capabilities and experience in development and flight testing of complex rotorcraft systems were a key factor in the customer’s decision.”

To date, Sikorsky and Boeing collectively have delivered more than 3,000 helicopters to the Army in support of its challenging missions.

The JMR TD program supports the Department of Defense’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to deliver the next generation of vertical lift aircraft with greater performance, reliability and affordability. The Defiant aircraft packages evolutionary technologies in a new, innovative and affordable design that flies faster, farther and with more payload.

The JMR TD Program offers Sikorsky and Boeing the opportunity to partner with the US Government in demonstrating the maturity of advanced and enabling future vertical lift technologies. Sikorsky and Boeing formed their JMR team in January 2013, and each company has invested significantly in the program.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Connecticut, is a world leader in aircraft design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Connecticut, provides high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

As the lead providers of Attack, Assault, and Heavy Lift Helicopters for the Department of Defense and with a proven track record and a demonstrated ability to exceed customer requirements for those missions with these programs of record, Boeing and Sikorsky have joined forces to develop the SB>1 DEFIANT™ for the DoD. Defiant is a fully integrated aircraft that represents an evolution of the military’s most capable platforms. Designed for the Army’s attack and assault missions as well as the Marine Corps long-range transportation, infiltration and resupply missions, the SB>1 DEFIANT™ is designed to provide the warfighter with unmatched capabilities for the U.S. Military’s various missions.

The SB>1 DEFIANT™ is ready to serve the U.S. Military for decades to come.

  • X2 Rotor System: A rigid, co-axial rotor system with pusher propulsor that provides improved mission objective capability, reduced wear on parts and systems, increased reliability and lower total lifecycle costs
  • Maneuverability and Agility: Improved agility and flight control augmentation allow tight assault formations with close proximity landings to deliver embarked troops as a cohesive unit and minimize exposure to hostile threats
  • Speed and Range: Twice the speed and distance of today’s conventional helicopters while increasing the overall maneuverability and agility needed for the US Military’s various missions
  • Survivability: Propulsor thrust coupled with large angular rates and precision attitude control enable the SB>1 DEFIANT™ to rapidly and precisely displace the aircraft position or flight path in response to threats or evolving tactical environments
  • Lethality: Rapid and precise acquisition of targets and prolonged engagement windows
  • Deployability: When folded for shipboard stowage, the SB>1 DEFIANT™ fits the footprint of a folded AH-1

Sikorsky and Boeing have designed the SB>1 DEFIANT™ to provide the right combination of speed, lift and range that are paramount to both the assault and attack missions while increasing overall maneuverability and agility. Developed with 85 percent commonality between attack and assault aircraft, the SB>1 DEFIANT™ will reduce development and life-cycle costs and ensure minimal disruption or loss of existing rotorcraft expertise. Its open mission systems architecture allows rapid technology and capability insertion to meet evolving FVL requirements and provide the U.S. Military with evolutionary sustainability, affordability and readiness for years to come.

The aircraft’s capabilities are largely derived from the X2 rigid co-axial rotor system which has already proven its airworthiness through flights of the X2 and S-97 Raider. With two coaxial rotors on top that rotate in opposite directions, the extra lift from each rotor’s advancing blade balances out the diminished lift from the opposite side’s retreating blade to eliminate retreating blade stall. To provide the raw forward thrust for fast flight, the back of the SB>1 DEFIANT™ mounts a pusher propulsor, allowing the aircraft to fly twice as fast and twice as far as today’s conventional helicopter while increasing the overall maneuverability and agility required for specific mission objectives. This additional flight component also provides unique and unmatched maneuverability in all flight regimes including hover, low-speed flight and high-speed flight.

On 28 December 2018 Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, and Boeing provided the first look at the SB>1 DEFIANT™ helicopter the companies have developed for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role technology demonstrator program. The SB>1 DEFIANT™ is designed to fly at twice the speed and range of today’s conventional helicopters and offers advanced agility and maneuverability. It will help inform the next generation of military helicopters as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. The helicopter is participating in the Army’s Joint Multi-Role-Medium Technology Demonstrator program. Data from SB>1 DEFIANT™ will help the Army develop requirements for new utility helicopters expected to enter service in the early 2030s.

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