Lockheed Martin released in April a video showing the operation of the advanced S-97 Raider, the prototype of one of the most advanced helicopters ever developed. The aircraft is a proposal to equip the United States military in various functions, from ground attack to material transport operations and soldiers.
Based on the X2 technology demonstrator, designed by Sikorsky Aircraft (a company acquired by Lockheed in 2015), the model ushered in a new era in the world of helicopters, with a distinctive shape and capable of high speeds: the aircraft is designed to fly over 248 miles per hour.
The Raider’s different design is marked by coaxial rotors (two propellers rotating in opposite directions) and a thrust propeller in the rear. In addition, the model also features computerized flight commands, the so-called “fly-by-wire” (common in fighter and commercial aircraft of last generation), and low noise and vibration.
According to the manufacturer, the S-97 can carry six passengers or a load of 4,000 kg. The helicopter is powered by a 2,600 horsepower General Eletric (YT706) turbine, which guarantees a three-hour or 570-km flight autonomy. The project also provides for in-flight refueling capability.
In attack missions, Lockheed’s futuristic helicopter may be armed with rocket launchers, cannons, and laser-guided Hellfire missiles.
The development of the S-97 Raider was started in 2008 by Sikorsky and the first prototype in the current format made the inaugural flight in May 2015. The manufacturer, however, has been testing this type of helicopter since the late 1970s but never there was real interest from the Pentagon.
With no deadline to go into operation, the S-97 fit the needs of the “Armed Aerial Scout” program launched by the US Army in 2012 to replace the OH-58 Kiowa, retired in 2016 But the selection was suspended in 2014 due to cost cutting. Still, the Raider project is still underway.