Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, and Boeing unveiled their concept for the new Defiant X advanced helicopter on Monday, January 25.
The helicopter design will be submitted to the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft competition, known as FLRAA.
It is designed to be “the fastest, most maneuverable, and most survivable assault helicopter in history,” Lockheed Martin states in a press release.
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Building on the Black Hawk’s legacy
In a bold statement regarding the Defiant X, Lockheed Martin says the new model flies “twice as far and fast as the venerable Black Hawk helicopter it is designed to replace.”
The model is currently undergoing testing in a digital combat environment, and will enable crews to fly low and fast through complex terrain and land quickly if necessary, the company says.
Lockheed explains that the Defiant X gets its name from its ability to quickly reach the objective area, referred to as “the X.”
New Defiant X features
The Defiant X is a tweaked version of the firm’s SB1-1 Defiant: amongst the changes, Defense News reports, are a changed outer mold line with a sharper nose cone, a tricycle-style landing gear, and changes to the exhaust system.
The airframe changes were made in part to reduce thermal signature and improve aerodynamic handling, while the exhaust system alterations were also made to reduce thermal signature.
The landing gear changes, meanwhile, were made to improve stability, landing, and taxiing in combat situations, the companies say.
‘Safety and workload reduction’ with the Defiant X
The two companies behind the Defiant X reported that the “enhancements to the design” come after roughly 1,500 hours running algorithms in a systems integration lab, as well as 26 hours of flight time.
Defiant X will also come with “fly-by-wire flight controls integrated with autonomy capability leading to safety and workload reduction for the crew and operations in complex and degraded visual environments,” the team reported.
Lockheed and Boeing also say that, as of now, Defiant X is the only helicopter that can sling-load equipment during missions “at an operationally relevant distance.”
Lockheed Martin says the U.S. Army is expected to announce a contract award for the FLRAA competition in 2022, giving all parties involved plenty of time to hone their concepts.