AUSA: Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky and teammate Boeing are taking a deliberate approach to building their prototype for the Army-led Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the SB>1 Defiant, officials told our contributor Richard Whittle when he visited their booth. Based on Sikorsky’s award-winning X2 technology demonstrator, the Defiant is a compound helicopter with coaxial rotors and a pusher propeller designed to fly twice as fast as most military helicopters and hover with exceptional agility. The Defiant is in the early stages of assembly in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the companies hope to fly their bird some time in 2018. (The rival Bell V-280 is already in ground testing.)
Rich Koucheravy, Sikorsky deputy director of SB>1 business development, talked to our own Richard Whittle about the advantages the Defiant’s makers see in the aircraft and why its coaxial rotor/pusher propeller design can overcome the physics of rotors that limit conventional helicopter speeds. Koucheravy also took Whittle for a ride in the Defiant team’s full-color video flight demonstrator.
Next year we want a ride in the real aircraft. So too, no doubt, does Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley, who’s made Future Vertical Lift one of his top six priorities for modernizing the force.