Sikorsky X2 Technology Propels Army Readiness in the Indo-Pacific
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) covers more of the globe than any Department of Defense geographic combatant commands, making it vital for the military to operate at range. The region has rapidly become the Pentagon’s top priority to counter threats from China, making the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) increasingly important for readiness.
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is offering the RAIDER X®, based on its transformational X2™ technology and coaxial rotorcraft design, to deliver the FARA mission. RAIDER X is custom-built for Indo-Pacific missions. It flies farther and faster than conventional aircraft, maneuvers with unmatched agility at low altitudes and excels in any environment, including extremely hot conditions.
“In battle, you want to live outside the threat ring. Getting in close and mitigating threats requires a combination of speed and the ability to capitalize on the environment,” said Christiaan Corry, Sikorsky’s lead test pilot for the S-97 RAIDER®, Sikorsky’s FARA-representative aircraft flying today in West Palm Beach, Florida. “The safest sanctuary for helicopters is low. And if you can fly low and fast, it’s especially difficult for radar to detect you. That’s what RAIDER X brings to battle.”
Yet the FARA mission relies on more than aircraft capabilities alone. In the future battlespace, FARA will act as a networked sensor, a “quarterback” for managing the effects and communications across platforms in the lower-tier air domain at up to 1,000 feet above the ground.
RAIDER X’s all-digital, Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) is designed not only to connect with sensors and shooters across all domains but also to rapidly evolve and grow with the technology landscape.
X2 technology will give pilots a decisive edge in USINDOPACOM environments in three fundamental ways.
Delivering Increased Speed and Maneuverability
The low and high-speed maneuverability of X2 technology, at 70-plus degree angles-of-bank, is critical for operating in contested environments. Fly-by-wire controls reduce pilots’ workload so they can focus on the mission. And the ability to fly at high altitudes and hover in hot conditions, common in the INDOPACOM region, is critical to the Army’s FARA mission.
X2 technology provides a leap ahead in rotorcraft capability and design. All this capability and continued testing are creating a more powerful weapon system in the multi-domain environment for Army aviators, ground commanders and infantry.
Sikorsky invested more than $1 billion in X2 technology and another billion in digital technology and tooling. Its long-standing digital factory features automated tools, additive manufacturing, augmented reality and other advances to lower cost, improve quality and reduce time-to-market. Already used on the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter and the CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter, Sikorsky’s digital thread concept drives affordability, producibility and reliability.
An 80-percent scale prototype of Sikorsky’s RAIDER X design, the S-97 RAIDER is the only prototype of a FARA competition design currently flying. Each flight provides data to challenge, refine and confirm the precision of Sikorsky’s virtual models. These reliable, physics-based simulations of the design enable early discovery and minimize redesign, reducing risk and increasing the efficiency and affordability of future aircraft.
“Test stands, test beds and other ground-based mechanical devices don’t give you load and performance information,” said Pete Germanowski, Sikorsky’s FARA chief engineer. “They can’t provide that integrated look at what the helicopter actually does in the air. Flying a prototype like the S-97 RAIDER is the low-risk way to make that happen.”
Providing a Transformational Solution
RAIDER X’s MOSA and digital backbone make it a dynamic aircraft capable of evolving to ensure rapid, seamless growth and relevance for decades. This approach will enable the smooth incorporation of the Army’s Improved Turbine Engine and future mission systems.
Sikorsky has already successfully demonstrated MOSA adaptability by engaging independent, third parties. Through these demonstrations, third parties have successfully completed capability updates and integration with Sikorsky’s technical and software data packages to realize the Army’s vision.
With RAIDER X, the Army’s inventory would add a weapon system that combines speed, range, maneuverability, survivability and operational flexibility – all to provide a decisive edge in the USINDOPACOM and future threat environments.
S-97 RAIDER®, RAIDER X®, X2™ technology and the X2 TECHNOLOGY™ Demonstrator are registered or unregistered trademarks of Lockheed Martin Corporation. CH-53K® is a registered trademark of the Department of the Navy.