Boeing-Sikorsky show their replacement for ‘Black Hawk’

IDD Update

Aerospace Giants, Boeing and the Sikorsky have jointly unveiled a helicopter – that along with another copter made by the Bell – is among the two down selected to replace the iconic ‘Black Hawk’, used by the armed forces of United States.

The two copters are vying for the tender that could bring in new copters after 2030 and is designed for the US Army’s future long range air assault (FLRAA) competition, a top modernization priority, and was expected revolutionize the way the Army meets threats in 2035 and beyond.

The US Army, in March last year  had awarded a $97 million award to Boeing-Sikorsky to refine their high-speed copter ‘Defiant’ over the next couple of years. The Bell Textron was also awarded $ 84 million for its V-280 Valor is to be refined.  Bell uses tilt-rotor technology while Boeing-Sikorsky have a propeller at the rear end of the copter.

Defiant-X in flight. Pic Boeing

Boeing-Sikorsky offering, called ‘DEFIANT X’, is an advanced utility helicopter and air assault weapon system that can fly low and fast, land quickly, deliver soldiers to the objective area (‘X’ is the target area) and get out — all while evading the enemy in a complex terrain.

“It will be the fastest, most maneuverable and most survivable military helicopter in history,” said the Boeing.

“It’s an agile, maneuverable aircraft that flies twice as far and twice as fast as the Black Hawk helicopter it will replace — and sits in the same operational footprint.”

Boeing

Crucially it will significantly advance the US Army’s air assault capability with limited changes in tactics, techniques, procedures, training and infrastructure. These will be backed by the Sikorsky-Boeing unsurpassed experience in mission systems, training and sustainment.

DEFIANT X’ is also optimized for:

  • Operational effectiveness in multi-domain operations (MDO) and Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) environments, with the ability to connect all battlefield assets
  • Sustainment, including extended maintenance-free operating periods, ease of maintenance in austere environments, reduced forward logistics burdens and long-term affordability
  • Interoperability with current aircraft, techniques and infrastructure

Speed will be crucial.

It has a rigid coaxial rotary and pusher propeller which will allow operations at high speeds while maintaining low-speed handling qualities. Meaning it allows speed where it matters – through tree lines, river beds, mountain ranges or contested urban environments – providing soldiers with unmatched maneuverability and survivability in high-threat air defence environments.

This critical capability allows crews to penetrate enemy defenses while reducing exposure to enemy fire, so they can quickly insert and extract soldiers with all their mission equipment in position – when seconds matter.

The Sikorsky and Boeing teams

Sikorsky is owned by Lockheed Martin, which along with Boeing,  form the world’s two largest military equipment makers, with sales of $53.23 Billion and $ 33.58 Billion, respectively, in 2019. ‘DEFIANT X’ is scale up on the handling qualities and transformational capabilities proven by ‘SB-1 DEFIANT’, a Sikorsky-Boeing technology demonstrator.

Collectively, they have built 90 percent of the US Army’s current military rotorcraft and have totaled more than 15 million flight hours. The team brought forward iconic military rotorcraft including Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache. India and several countries use such copters.

A pair of Black Hawks in operation. Pic Sikorsky

The teams is experienced in advanced manufacturing, testing and producing cutting-edge rotorcraft configurations has provided understanding of the Army’s mission – enabling us a flexible, agile, advanced solution with adaptable software and systems for future growth across multiple missions.

What is FLRAA

Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft’s (FLRAA) Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction Programmme  initiated in 2019. It looks to field a new long-range attack copters by the year 2030. The programme  includes a potential replacement for not just the Black Hawk and, but also the AH-64 Apaches.

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