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Boeing and Sikorsky to team up on X2-based rotorcraft for U.S. Army

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March 3, 2013

Artist’s rendering of the JMR-FVL concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Sikorsky

Artist’s rendering of the JMR-FVL concept aircraft proposed by Boeing and Sikorsky

Sikorsky’s coaxial X2 Demonstrator may have taken its last flight, but the rotorcraft’s design will serve as the basis for a new aircraft proposed by Sikorsky and Boeing. The companies will submit a joint proposal to build the new aircraft for Phase 1 of the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD) program that aims to deliver the next generation of vertical lift utility and attack aircraft.

Sikorsky’s X2 Demonstrator, which made its first flight in August 2008, is notable for its coaxial rotor design that sees its two main rotors counter-rotating on the same vertical axis. This configuration, coupled with a “pusher prop” at the rear of the aircraft supplying auxiliary propulsion and an advanced fly-by-wire system, helped the X2 set an unofficial world speed record for a helicopter on September 15, 2010, when it reached a speed of 250 knots (288 mph, 463 km/h) in level flight.

It is this proven design that Samir Mehta, president of Sikorsky Military Systems, says Boeing and Sikorsky will leverage to deliver an aircraft with an “efficient 230-knot (265 mph, 426 km/h) cruise airspeed, improved hover efficiency, and weigh-optimized design in an affordable package.” He added that the design would “offer the Army reduced risk, a 100-knot improvement in speed, a 60 percent improvement in combat radius, and 50 percent better high-hot hover performance."

The two companies will share leadership on the project, with Sikorsky taking the lead for the JMR TD Phase 1 proposal and Boeing taking the reins for Phase 2, which is the mission systems demonstrator program.

Phase 1 proposals must be presented to the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate by March 6, with the one or more winning bids expected to be announced in late 2013. The demonstrator aircraft will be expected to be in the air in 2017.

Sources: Boeing, Sikorsky

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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15 Comments

Nothing new about this. The AH-56 Cheyenne hit 244mph in level flight 40 years ago now. Same basic system, just not twin rotors.

VoiceofReason
3rd March, 2013 @ 08:31 pm PST

awesome, this helo blows the old blackhawks outta the water.

Hopefully it becomes a reality with all the US' budget woes.

Derek Howe
3rd March, 2013 @ 08:52 pm PST

Hitler had a design very simular to this...

Kevin Thomas
3rd March, 2013 @ 09:21 pm PST

The AH-56 Cheyenne hit 244mph in level flight 40 years ago now. Same basic system, just not twin rotors.

VoiceofReason3rd March, 2013 @ 08:31 pm PST

Dang right ... with stub wings rather than twin contra-rotors ... similar performance, very advanced setup for the time ... makes you wonder how these decisions get made .. suddenly its good again?



This is good:

Marke
4th March, 2013 @ 01:47 am PST

"Similar in Appearance" is not that big a deal. The venerable DC3 is still one of the best aircraft ever built and many built during WWII are still flying. The big difference here is that steady technological innovation will enable an aircraft that is lighter, stiffer, much stronger, with vastly improved controls and behaviour, coupled with far better operability and maintainability than preceding aircraft. The UH1 Huey is a great chopper but it needed something like 8 hours of maintenance for every 16 hours flying. The Blackhawk's numbers are far better. This design has contrarotating rotors that historically have always flown well but been severe maintenance problems. If the wear & tear issues go away with modern materials then the low speed hover failure that knocked down the SF Chopper that crashed on landing on Bin Laden's crib might just be a bad memory. Finally, many aircraft, such the Huey and the DC3 would be even better if refreshed in modern materials, manufacturing technique, modern digital avionics, etc.

StWils
4th March, 2013 @ 09:42 am PST

The AH-56 Cheyenne and the AH-66 Comanche project were both technologically ahead of their times and very costly projects. The Cheyenne's range and speed were the result of using the wings to unload the rotor, resulting in more of a gyro than an helo at speed. It would be interesting in adding wings to this x-2 technology, but it really depends on the mission. The wings and a pusher prop do nothing for hot, high hover requirements. Both of these helos required an anti-torque rotor which the X-2 does not, a big benefit when it comes to noise, safety and complexity.

Doug Halkenhauser
4th March, 2013 @ 11:26 am PST

According to the spokeperserson at the Honda Classic where this baby was on disply yesterday, they have $70 million in this baby and still know orders. The twin counterrotating blades and 5 blade pusher at the rear makes it the fastest bird in the sky.

H Skip Robinson
4th March, 2013 @ 03:17 pm PST

While I see no reason for this to fail, I would prefer to see the Army looking at either something with the layout of the Eurocopter X-3 or a new tilt-rotor (non-folding airframe, and at least 9-bladed rotors) The V-22 suffers from poor design decisions made to make her carrier compatible.

re; Doug Halkenhauser

The real reason the AH-56 Cheyenne was killed was that the Air Force objected to the Army having a propeller driven fixed wing attack plane at the same time as the aircraft was having control problems. Congress sided with the Air Force.

The RAH-66 Comanche aside from supposing to being a stealth aircraft was a conventional helicopter. had it been as stealthy as it was advertised to be probably would have survived the mismanagement and cost overruns.

Slowburn
4th March, 2013 @ 05:04 pm PST

any chance for civilian use IE air tours over Hawaii.

Stephen N Russell
4th March, 2013 @ 06:07 pm PST

StWils 4th March, 2013 @ 09:42 am PST

"....steady technological innovation will enable an aircraft that is lighter, stiffer, much stronger, with vastly improved controls and behaviour, coupled with far better operability and maintainability than preceding aircraft...."

I think you are correct in that an aircraft designed and built now will be a substantial improvement and contain more advanced technology than one designed and built 40 years ago.

Marke
4th March, 2013 @ 06:08 pm PST

re; Stephen N Russell

There is nothing secret about the technology so if it gets into production a civilian version is a real possibility and there is the Eurocopter X-4 on the horizon as well.

Slowburn
4th March, 2013 @ 08:05 pm PST

In response to StWils, the Huey phase maintenance was significantly shorter, less expensive and less involved than Blackhawk phase maint. I saw Hueys come and go while Blackhawks took up hanger bay space for weeks.

Seems the Army came around when they bought the Lakota helos. Don't get me wrong, I like the Blackhawks, but I always felt they were overkill. The Lakotas seem a great fit as a less expenisive helo. Having flow quite a few times on a Merlin as well, I'd had to say as a passenger, I prefer a Merlin to all the others.

David Finney
5th March, 2013 @ 11:38 am PST

re; David Finney

A Blackhawk is capable of carrying its official load of passengers with a UH-1N Iroquois (Twin engine variant Huey) as a sling-load underneath. It has been known to fly safely with as many people as you can cram into the passenger compartment. It was never intended to simply fill the role of a Huey only faster.

Slowburn
5th March, 2013 @ 04:54 pm PST

Technology is the driving force on capabilities of helicopters. I remember when I was told I'd never see a non-symetrical blade on a rotor system, yet with new materials and production processes, it has happened.

The Huey is a great aircraft. It is simple to maintain. The Blackhawk is excellent too. It is able to take more combat damage and keep going. It is more modernized and takes more maintenance time.

Helicoptersonly have a limited range with built-in fuel. Normally about 2+30 on both the Huey and Hawk. To add range you have to detract from cargo space or performance.

The Russians have used co-axial rotors on many of their aircraft. It may help compensate for retreating blade stall, but you still have compressibility to consider.

Snakeman
6th March, 2013 @ 08:11 am PST

@ Marke and StWils

"I think you are correct in that an aircraft designed and built now will be a substantial improvement and contain more advanced technology than one designed and built 40 years ago."

Agreed and yet we still aint put another rocket on the moon, whats with that? Funny how we have the capability to achieve all these advanced technology but..

Facebook User
21st June, 2013 @ 06:37 pm PDT
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