The Lockheed Martin Sikorsky-Boeing team has successfully completed the first mission profile test flights with the SB-1 Defiant technology demonstrator related to the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition. The test includes confined area landings and low-level flight operations.
These flights validate Defiant’s relevancy to the Army‘s mission, providing agility at the objective and increased survivability, all while reducing pilot workload.
During the test flight, the Defiant reached a speed of 236 knots (437 km/h) in level flight, then reduced thrust on the propulsor to rapidly decelerate to a confined and unimproved landing zone. SB-1 Defiant is a compound, co-axial helicopter that derives most of its forward thrust from a tail-mounted propeller.
“This type of level body deceleration allowed us to maintain situational awareness and view the landing zone throughout the approach and landing without the typical nose-up helicopter deceleration. This confined area was extremely tight, requiring us to delay descent until nearly over the landing spot, followed by a near-vertical drop. We landed Defiant precisely on the objective with little effort as we descended into this narrow hole while maintaining clearance on all sides,” said Bill Fell, Defiant chief flight test pilot at Sikorsky and a retired U.S. Army Master aviator.
In addition, the Defiant also carried out a series of 60-degree banked turns, demonstrated mission-relevant cargo capacity by lifting a 5,300-pound Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System external load, and also demonstrated Level 1 low-speed agility with fly-by-wire controls.
It incorporates Sikorsky X Technology to operate at high speeds while maintaining low-speed handling qualities. This critical capability provides pilots with increased maneuverability and survivability in high-threat environments, allowing them to penetrate enemy defenses while reducing exposure to enemy fire.
SB-1 Defiant is the technology demonstrator proving out transformational capabilities for the Defiant X weapon system. Defiant X will enable crews to fly low and fast through complex terrain, where Army aviators spend most of their time. It will extend the capabilities of Army Aviation on the modern battlefield – and is designed to fit in the same footprint as a BLACK HAWK. With Defiant X, the U.S. Army will deliver troops and cargo in future combat at twice the range of the current fleet.
“It’s what we call building combat power rapidly, and aircraft like the Defiant X can do that,” said Tony Crutchfield, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General and now vice president of Army Systems at Boeing. “In the Pacific, it’s even more important because your lines of operation are going to be dispersed over a wide area; you’re going to have these small bases and supply lines that’ll be positioned either on ships or on islands. You’re going to want to move more assets, maneuver in confined terrain, and survive to build that combat power faster than your adversary can – so you can win.”