Triple Threat: DEFIANT® Helicopter Slaloms, Lifts External Loads and Demos Single-Engine Capability

Triple Threat: DEFIANT® Helicopter Slaloms, Lifts External Loads and Demos Single-Engine Capability

In three demonstrations during the same flight, the Lockheed Martin Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 DEFIANT® helicopter demonstrated it is not only maneuverable, survivable and fast, but also provides the critical external lift capability of traditional rotorcraft. With DEFIANT X®, the team’s offering for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), crews will deliver troops and cargo to the objective (also known as the “X”) in future combat at twice the speed and range of the current fleet.

During the tests, the dual-engine DEFIANT demonstrated single-engine operations which highlighted the added survivability of the aircraft should an engine sustain combat damage.

“These test flights are part of our continuing demonstration of how DEFIANT supports the Army’s missions of massing combat power on the objective area,” said Jay Macklin, a retired Army Colonel and Air Assault Task Force Commander and business development director of Sikorsky Army, Future Vertical Lift and Innovations. “During INDOPACOM operations, DEFIANT X’s reach and unsurpassed demonstrated payload capability, enables not only long-range Air Assault operations, but also ship-to-shore sustainment at extended distances well outside the reach of threat capabilities. DEFIANT X is a highly maneuverable aircraft that not only gets you to the fight, but allows you to bring the fight with you, fitting into landing zones that currently accommodate the UH-60 BLACK HAWK®.”

Sikorsky chief test pilot Bill Fell, a retired U.S. Army Master aviator, described the recent tests, which occurred at the company’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida:

  • Achieved ADS-33 Level One: DEFIANT flew slalom maneuvers at three different speeds between 60 knots and 100 knots. DEFIANT easily achieved ADS-33 level one tolerances during the final run on the 500-foot-gate course as required by the aeronautical design standard slalom course, Fell said.

“Many rotorcraft struggle with this maneuver, but DEFIANT performed flawlessly,” Fell said. “It was the easiest I have completed this task, having flown it in roughly 10 different rotorcraft. This will provide warfighters an advantage when maneuvering to avoid and evade enemy forces.”

  • External Load Lift and Flight: DEFIANT continued its external load lift testing (previous testing included lifting 5,300 pounds) and traveled out of the test yard with an external load. Using a cargo hook, DEFIANT took a 3,400-pounds load away from the airfield and then returned it a short time later. Carrying the external load, DEFIANT reached speeds near 100-knots and 20-degrees angle of bank out of the yard flight with external load for an X2™ technology aircraft. 

“This capability will allow Army units to move equipment or build Forward Operating Bases with DEFIANT like they do today,” Fell said. “These sorties will however be faster as the return trip for the next load will happen at X2 speed – twice the speed of a Black Hawk.”

  • Single Engine Demonstration: To demonstrate one aspect of DEFIANT’s survivability, the pilots placed one engine in idle at 100 knots and completed an approach to a hover, hover, and landing at a mission representative weight, Fell explained.

"These test flights are part of our continuing demonstration of how DEFIANT supports the Army’s missions of massing combat power on the objective area."

Jay Macklin, Director of Business development, Lockheed Martin Sikorsky Army, Future Vertical Lift and Innovations

“Hovering with one engine – which is a real scenario our troops could face if an engine sustained combat damage – is another example of how we bring the Sikorsky motto into all our aircraft ‘pioneering flight solutions that bring people home everywhere, every time,’” Fell said.

“Through our recent flight test progress, we are truly seeing the transformational capability that DEFIANT X offers and how it will change the game for the U.S. Army,” said Heather McBryan, Boeing director of business development for future vertical lift programs. “It’s amazing what you can see when you put a design into an operationally relevant test environment. We are even more confident in the vision that we had when we chose the X2 design for the FLRAA mission.”

SB>1 DEFIANT is the technology demonstrator proving out transformational capabilities for the DEFIANT X weapon system, the Sikorsky-Boeing team offering for the U.S. Army's FLRAA competition as part of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. DEFIANT X will enable crews to fly low and fast through complex terrain, where Army aviators spend most of their time. It will extend capabilities of Army Aviation on the modern battlefield – and is designed to fit in the same footprint as a BLACK HAWK.

DEFIANT X incorporates Sikorsky’s X2™ technology to operate at high speeds while maintaining low-speed handling qualities. This critical capability provides pilots with increased maneuverability and survivability in high-threat environments, allowing them to penetrate enemy defenses while reducing exposure to enemy fire. DEFIANT X’s coaxial rotor system and pusher prop allows for a high degree of maneuverability in and around the objective which is also directly linked to survivability.

DEFIANT achievements include:


  • Low-altitude maneuverability at speed
  • Tree top maneuverability at speed
  • Confined Area Operations
  • Demonstrated Level 1 low-speed agility with fly-by-wire controls
  • Greater than 60-degree banked turns
  • Demonstrating mission-relevant cargo capacity by lifting a 5,300-pound Guided Multiple Launcher Rocket Storage Pod external load
  • Achieved 247 knots
  • Executed multiple test flights with U.S. Army experimental test pilots at the controls
  • Based on the Collier Award-winning X2 Technology
DEFIANT X® is a registered trademark of Lockheed Martin

First published on February 17, 2022