Aurora Flight Sciences has shipped the largely carbonfibre fuselage for the S-97 Raider helicopter to Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach flight test centre in Florida.
Manufactured at Aurora’s Bridgeport facility in West Virginia, the structure will form part of a prototype of the high-speed compound rotorcraft, which will have a maximum gross take-off weight of 4,990kg (11,000lb). Revealed in 2012, the design draws on Sikorsky’s past experience with flying the X2 coaxial-rotor technology demonstrator.
"Sikorsky intends to begin demonstrating the Raider helicopter’s game-changing flight capabilities to the US military and other potential customers in 2015," the company says. The design should deliver "significant improvements in payload and flight endurance compared with conventional light tactical helicopters", it claims.
A potential candidate for the US Army’s prospective armed aerial scout requirement, the S-97 should also be capable of achieving a dash speed of up to 250kt (462km/h), according to Sikorsky.