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Sikorsky and Boeing have released details of the advanced helicopter they are entering into the US Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition. The aircraft, named DEFIANT X, will be the fastest, most maneuverable and most survivable assault helicopter in history. Combined with the team’s unsurpassed experience in mission systems, training and sustainment, it will revolutionise the way the Army meets threats in 2035 and beyond.

DEFIANT X is a complete weapon system that builds on the handling qualities and transformational capabilities proven by the team’s technology demonstrator, the SB>1 DEFIANT®. With unmatched range and survivability, DEFIANT X will change the way the Army fights – by enabling crews to fly low and fast through complex terrain, land quickly, deliver Soldiers and equipment to the objective area (referred to as “the X”) and get out.

DEFIANT X flies twice as far and fast as the venerable BLACK HAWK® helicopter it is designed to replace. Currently undergoing testing in a digital combat environment, the aircraft continues to prove itself the most survivable platform for mission requirements.

Sikorsky DEFIANT TO Sikorsky/Boeing DEFIANT X

With its rigid coaxial rotor system and pusher propeller, DEFIANT X incorporates Sikorsky X2 Technology™ to operate at high speeds while maintaining low-speed handling qualities. This critical capability provides Soldiers with increased maneuverability and survivability in high-threat air defence environments, allowing them to penetrate enemy defenses while reducing exposure to enemy fire. Compared to the SB>1 DEFIANT, the DEFIANT X airframe has enhancements to improve aerodynamics and reduce the thermal signature.

DEFIANT X will revolutionise the Army’s air assault capability with limited changes in tactics, techniques, procedures, training and infrastructure while maintaining the BLACK HAWK® helicopter footprint and tight formation capability flown today. The Army is expected to release a request for proposal on FLRAA later this year and is planning to award a contract in 2022.

Jack Richardson