Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider Makes First Flight

Sikorsky S-97 Raider during its first flight. Sikorsky

Nearly a year ago, Sikorsky's S-97 Raider helicopter powered up for the first time; now the first prototype is air-bound.

The Raider successfully completed its first flight at Sikorsky's Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, on May 22. During the hour-long flight, pilot Bill Fell and co-pilot Kevin Bredenbeck tested the helicopter's hover and low-speed capabilities.

Configured after the X2, the Raider is intended as a multi-mission aircraft, capable of transporting six troops and external weapons. Like its predecessor, the Raider features coaxial counter-rotating rotors and a pusher propeller, expected to drive it to cruising speeds of up to 240 knots.

Having passed its first test flight, the Raider is on track to perform more progressive, combat-related testing to prove its capabilities in such tasks as armed reconnaissance, light assault, light attack and special operations.

The second prototype of the S-97 Raider will be completed in 2015 and Sikorsky will host a demonstration tour of the aircraft in 2016.

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