The first Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant helicopter has made its first flight at West Palm Beach, Florida. Dan Spoor, vice president, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift said: “We are thrilled with the results of today’s flight and look forward to an exciting flight test programme.” The first flight demonstrated hovering with the tail propulsor disengaged.
The Defiant is a demonstrator for technologies on offer for the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme. It features coaxial main rotors and a rear-mounted pusher propulsor. According to the manufacturer, this configuration will meet the U.S. government’s desire for vast increases in speed and range, while improving manoeuvrability and survivability in a cost-effective way. Sikorsky (now a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin) refer to this as X2 technology, following on from the X2 demonstrator first flown in 2008 and S-97 raider of 2015.
The X2 technology is scalable to a variety of military missions such as attack and assault, long-range transportation, infiltration and resupply. The Defiant is in competition with the Bell 280 Valor for the FVL contract, which will eventually encompass a family of rotorcraft optimised for different missions.