Sikorsky is one step closer to first flight of the high-speed S-97 prototype helicopter later this year after passing the power-on milestone in the assembly process.

Activating on board power means the cockpit displays and control display unit have been integrated into the aircraft, the company says.

The first prototype aircraft is now about halfway through the assembly process, Sikorsky says.

The next several weeks will be focused on completing the checkout of the rest of the electronic equipment, including avionics and flight controls.

Sikorsky and several development partners, including United Technologies Aerospace Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Honeywell, have invested “a couple of hundred million” dollars to build and demonstrate the S-97.

Sikorsky plans to demonstrate the aircraft’s capabilities to the US military in 2015. The company has identified a need to replace the US Special Operations Boeing MH-6M Little Birds.

The S-97 is based on the propulsion concept that Sikorsky proved was feasible with the X2 demonstrator.

Propelled by a rigid rotor coaxial system and pusher propeller, the fly-by-wire X2 achieved speeds over 260kt.

The S-97 is designed to achieve operational speeds over 200kt while carrying weapons and room for six passengers.