The Defiant X: Faster than a Black Hawk

Lockheed Martin owned Sikorsky and Boeing unveiled their brand-new assault helicopter to the world this month. It is called the Defiant X, taking the same surname as little brother Raider X, which aims to replace the aging fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as the army’s long-range assault aircraft of the future, and as part of the bigger Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. As the name suggests, this new breed of assault choppers will not back down without a fight whether it is in defeat or victory. Sikorsky and Boeing together have built about 90 percent of the U.S. Army’s current military rotorcraft and have totaled more than 15 million flight hours. The Defiant X will be the next great helicopter to serve the army after the Black Hawk, Chinook, and Apache.

“Future wars will not be fought like the wars of today”.

Photo credits: HiConsumption

The Defiant X will reportedly have twice the range and speed of the UH-60 (Black Hawk), which cruises at 173 mph, making it the fastest, most maneuverable, and most survivable assault helicopter in history. The most noticeable and obvious changes made are the aerodynamics of the fuselage and the new coaxial main rotors and a rear-mounted pusher prop. These new blades eliminate the risk of retreating blade stall and uneven lift forces at high speeds found in single rotor designs and at lower speeds, the coaxial rotors allow the helicopter to retain good handling characteristics. Furthermore, massive changes have been made to the outer mold line compared to the SB>1 Defiant demonstrator airframe, such as a sharper nose cone; a tricycle-style landing gear that improves stability in landing and taxiing in an austere environment, changes to the exhaust system that reduces its heat signature and an integrated mission systems package. Company officials have declined to reveal the Defiant X’s maximum speed, however, the SB>1 Defiant did hit a maximum speed of 211 mph in a straight-level flight and a 267 mph speed in descent. It also includes X2 Technology that allows it to operate at high speeds while maintaining the handling qualities of lower speeds developed by Sikorsky. These vital changes make the Defiant X extremely fast and agile which helps to penetrate high-threat air defense environments while reducing exposure to enemy fire. Boeing and Sikorsky personnel, have only kept the words ‘stealth’ and ‘speed’ in mind when designing the Defiant X.

Photo credits: Helicopters Magazine

The Defiant X also has a “little brother”, the Raider X, developed for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, also part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. The Raider X is somewhat similar to the Defiant, in regards to the same coaxial rotors and a pusher propeller technology, a similar fuselage, however, is no match in terms of speed and maneuverability with its bigger brother.

The Raider X (Photo credits: Sikorsky/Press Photo)

Defiant X is purpose-built for a modernized army that requires expanded reach, survivability, and lethality. Boeing and Sikorsky feel the need to finally replace the Black Hawk which has been in-service for the past 40 years, and the Defiant X seems to be the ultimate replacement. It is built solely to advance the army’s air assault capability with limited changes in tactics, techniques, procedures, training, and infrastructure. The Army is also expected to submit a request for a proposal on Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) later this year with a contract award expected in 2022. It is also reported that the Defiant X will serve the battlefield in 2035 and beyond.

Sources: – The Defiant X

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