HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As technology advances throughout the world, so does military defense and intelligence.
Right now the army is searching for the future of military rotorcraft, through the Future Vertical Lift Program, or FVL.
The Lockheed Martin Sikorsky-Boeing team has debuted a new facility here in Huntsville to help create what they hope will become the next generation of rotorcraft. Huntsville now has a simulation of one of these aircraft where current and future pilots can ultimately train.
Jay Macklin, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift Business Director, says the simulation is as real as being out in the field.
“The Army’s aviators go through flight school and we really think that this aircraft is very intuitive to fly, we think these pilots are going to pick up on this quickly and it doesn’t require any extra training,” Macklin told News 19.
As a former task force commander, Macklin says rehearsals are critical, “You know being able to do things in a rehearsal and learn and see lessons learned in simulation is absolutely incredible.”
For over 40 years, the “Black Hawk” has led the way for American military helicopters. Sikorsky made the iconic Black Hawk helicopter and is now working on two prototypes it hopes will be named as the future of military helicopters the “Raider X” and “Defiant X.”
Both prototypes are designs they hope will be chosen for the army’s new scout aircraft and long-range assault aircraft programs. Sikorsky and Boeing came together to design the “Defiant X,” which the companies hope will replace the Black Hawk.
“Defiant or the FLRAA competition is really designed to be the next aircraft after the Black Hawk in the long-range assault role and this aircraft really delivers, it goes twice as far, twice as fast and twice the capability,” Macklin said.
Macklin also said the partnership with Boeing will prepare the military in the years to come.
“In the years 2030 and beyond, it’s going to be a really dangerous place, and near-peer competitors where it’s going to be a lot more challenging. These aircraft are going to have to faster, fly lower and be more agile,” he added.
Each of the prototypes will rely on “X2 Technology,” this includes two counter-rotating rigid rotors and a rear-mounted pusher propulsor instead of a tail rotor.
“So a formation flight with five aircraft slamming into an LZ at night, under fire in bad weather, we can deliver those troops and mass combat power as quick as we possibly can to get them onto the ground, it’s remarkably survivable and more effective for the mission, closer to the objective,” Chris Downey, Boeing Future Vertical Lift Business Director said.
With this design, the developers say their helicopters will maintain all of the capabilities of the Black Hawk while being nearly twice as fast, twice as maneuverable. All while being quieter and changing the way the military flies and fights.