It could be the future of military helicopters.
Called SB>1 Defiant, the radical craft is being built by Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky – and has been revealed for the first time.
‘The SB>1 DEFIANT is designed to fly at twice the speed and range of today’s conventional helicopters and offers advanced agility and maneuverability,’ Sikorsky said.
The craft, which could enter service in the 2030s, could replace the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and the UH-60 Blackhawk.
When it enters service, the Defiant will carry a crew of four and a cabin equipped for up to 12 combat-ready troops or eight medevac litters.
There will also be an attack variant that shares a common fly-by-wire drivetrain and many other systems, but has a different composite fuselage and is much more heavily armed.
‘Designed for the Army’s attack and assault missions as well as the Marine Corps long-range transportation, infiltration and resupply missions, the SB>1 DEFIANT is uniquely suited to provide the warfighter with unmatched capabilities for the U.S. Military’s various missions,’ the firms said.
‘The primary advantage that Defiant’s going to offer over a traditional helicopter is, it’s got twice the speed, two to three times the range, and is just an extremely maneuverable and agile platform,’ said retired Marine Maj. Frank P. Conway, Sikorsky’s experimental test pilot for both the SB>1 and the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, when the concept was first unveiled.
He called the Defiant ‘a very hot, sexy aircraft.’
Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, and Boeing are partners on SB>1 DEFIANT, as well as Future Vertical Lift Medium.
The Defiant would cruise at 250 knots and hover at altitudes of 6,000 feet.
This is more than a hundred miles an hour faster than the UH-60M Blackhawk transport, as it maxes out at 183 miles an hour.
It will also have the strength and power to carry more cargo than the average helicopters, but Lockheed is not giving all of its secrets away – it has yet to release the range and payload capacity.
However, the firm is boasting about the machine’s innovated design.
The ‘warcopter’ would be equipped with foldable, ridged composite rotor blades that create less downwash when it lowers to the ground to drop off or pick off soldiers and supplies.
And the pusher propeller and active rudders will provider pilots with more stability when hovering, as a well a helping them quickly accelerate and decelerate while in flight.
Defiant is designed to be more efficient when transporting soldiers – the cabin seats 12 people comfortably or eight medevac pallets – the Blackhawk can only carry 11 soldiers.
And there is weapon employments in all modes of flight.
Lockheed also shared that the Defiant can also ‘dramatically reduced acoustic signature’, which means it is much quieter than traditional helicopters and can go undetected by surrounding enemies.
Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky and the Boeing Co. are still fabricating parts for the first Defiant, which is their entrant in the Army-run Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program.