Warplanes: Sikorsky Does It Again


October 28, 2010:  Sikorsky Aircraft, which produced the first service-ready American helicopter in 1942, and more recently the UH-60, has sought to assert its design dominance once more by developing a new helicopter design that produces record breaking speed (417 kilometers an hour). The new design is actually evolutionary, using coaxial rotors (that is two sets of rotors, one above the other with the props going in opposite directions and eliminating the need of a rear propeller to keep the aircraft from spinning) and a pusher prop in the rear. But there is also extensive use of new rotor design and software operated controls. The new design not only produces high speeds, but, more importantly, enables operation with heavy loads at high altitudes (think Afghanistan). Earlier, the major user of coaxial prop helicopters was Kamov, which, since the 1950s, built several models for naval use in Russia.

So Sikorsky is taking the 3.6 ton X-2 demonstrator (of the new technology) helicopter, and developing it into the S-97, a prototype of a light attack/reconnaissance helicopter that can carry six troops, or a ton of weapons. The first prototype is not expected to fly until 3-4 years from now. Meanwhile, the X-2 will continue development to test more new technology.



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