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Sikorsky S-97 Raider

CammNut

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Remember, when Sikorsky launched development of the Raider it was aimed at the Army's Armed Aerial Scout requirement. AAS was shelved. There is no customer, so there is no hurry. Raider can provide risk reduction for the SB-1 Defiant JMR demonstrator, and that is its main role for now. But they cannot afford a failure or a mistake as it would impact JMR/FVL, so they are going very cautiously.

Also, Sikorsky is now owned by Lockheed and I am sure does nit have the same freedom to spend independent R&D money as it once had. When Raider picks up momentum again, it will be as a Lockheed product.
 

F-14D

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CammNut said:
Remember, when Sikorsky launched development of the Raider it was aimed at the Army's Armed Aerial Scout requirement. AAS was shelved. There is no customer, so there is no hurry. Raider can provide risk reduction for the SB-1 Defiant JMR demonstrator, and that is its main role for now. But they cannot afford a failure or a mistake as it would impact JMR/FVL, so they are going very cautiously.

Also, Sikorsky is now owned by Lockheed and I am sure does nit have the same freedom to spend independent R&D money as it once had. When Raider picks up momentum again, it will be as a Lockheed product.
As i remember it, Sikorsky started the Raider independently of AAS. They openly stated, though, that they always intended to offer it for the AAS program, which probably drove its size. They realized they couldn't compete with the other expected bidders on unit price, but were going to argue that an S-97 derivative would offer so much more capability that that would be a game changer in how the AAS could operate. Also, a vehicle with those capabilities might produce a lower overall solution when all factors were considered (like how many you would have to buy, etc.). They would have to build a demonstrator because such a high-risk alternative simply wouldn't be considered without one.

When AAS died in 2013, Sikorsky planned to press on, looking for other customers (and maybe the US after all), hence the reason for the 2nd air vehicle, and announced a schedule based on the new reality. However, like the X2, it's taking much longer and moving much slower than their announced schedules. Clearly, the lack of a definite customer or requirement is hurting the program, and with over $250 million invested in X2 & S-97 so far, I have no doubt that Lockheed is adding up the numbers. However, they are behind what they were planning just a year ago that I wonder if there's something else in play. It can provide some risk reduction for the SB-1, but given that the SB-1 itself is supposed to fly next year and although S-97 could demonstrate scalability, is there a danger it needs to speedup or risk becoming OBE?
 

Sundog

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F-14D said:
As i remember it, Sikorsky started the Raider independently of AAS. They openly stated, though, that they always intended to offer it for the AAS program, which probably drove its size. They realized they couldn't compete with the other expected bidders on unit price, but were going to argue that an S-97 derivative would offer so much more capability that that would be a game changer in how the AAS could operate. Also, a vehicle with those capabilities might produce a lower overall solution when all factors were considered (like how many you would have to buy, etc.). They would have to build a demonstrator because such a high-risk alternative simply wouldn't be considered without one.

When AAS died in 2013, Sikorsky planned to press on, looking for other customers (and maybe the US after all), hence the reason for the 2nd air vehicle, and announced a schedule based on the new reality. However, like the X2, it's taking much longer and moving much slower than their announced schedules. Clearly, the lack of a definite customer or requirement is hurting the program, and with over $250 million invested in X2 & S-97 so far, I have no doubt that Lockheed is adding up the numbers. However, they are behind what they were planning just a year ago that I wonder if there's something else in play. It can provide some risk reduction for the SB-1, but given that the SB-1 itself is supposed to fly next year and although S-97 could demonstrate scalability, is there a danger it needs to speedup or risk becoming OBE?
I'm thinking, maybe since they don't have a customer for the S-97, they've decided to just dump the development money into the SB-1, since there is more at stake with that program than the S-97 itself.
 

Triton

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"WATCH: S-97 Raider Flies with Wheels Up"
Posted By: Brendan McGarry November 7, 2016

Source:
http://www.dodbuzz.com/2016/11/07/watch-s-97-raider-flies-wheels-up/

The S-97 Raider coaxial helicopter made by Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Sikorsky unit recently flew with its wheels up for the first time.

The company has released video showing the prototype making its ninth and latest test flight.

The roughly three minutes of footage shows a pair of test pilots in orange jump suits flying the high-speed compound helicopter in a series of maneuvers, including retracting its landing gear for the first time.

“We got good indications in here,” a pilot radios after the landing gear folded into the body of the rotorcraft.

https://youtu.be/oPMKUA8xgAg


https://youtu.be/xQZ-P0DeSxQ
 

VTOLicious

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No update on flight test progress since "wheels up". Just found a rather rare in-flight pic at the LM-homepage:
 

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fredymac

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No mention of top speed attained. I figure they are still in the middle of their envelope testing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HncZgouxt9k
 

Jeb

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Seems quiet, as much as I can tell through the music. I really like this platform.
 

yasotay

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Good to see the Raider "out and about".
 

Triton

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F-14D said:
CammNut said:
Remember, when Sikorsky launched development of the Raider it was aimed at the Army's Armed Aerial Scout requirement. AAS was shelved. There is no customer, so there is no hurry. Raider can provide risk reduction for the SB-1 Defiant JMR demonstrator, and that is its main role for now. But they cannot afford a failure or a mistake as it would impact JMR/FVL, so they are going very cautiously.

Also, Sikorsky is now owned by Lockheed and I am sure does nit have the same freedom to spend independent R&D money as it once had. When Raider picks up momentum again, it will be as a Lockheed product.
As i remember it, Sikorsky started the Raider independently of AAS. They openly stated, though, that they always intended to offer it for the AAS program, which probably drove its size. They realized they couldn't compete with the other expected bidders on unit price, but were going to argue that an S-97 derivative would offer so much more capability that that would be a game changer in how the AAS could operate. Also, a vehicle with those capabilities might produce a lower overall solution when all factors were considered (like how many you would have to buy, etc.). They would have to build a demonstrator because such a high-risk alternative simply wouldn't be considered without one.

When AAS died in 2013, Sikorsky planned to press on, looking for other customers (and maybe the US after all), hence the reason for the 2nd air vehicle, and announced a schedule based on the new reality. However, like the X2, it's taking much longer and moving much slower than their announced schedules. Clearly, the lack of a definite customer or requirement is hurting the program, and with over $250 million invested in X2 & S-97 so far, I have no doubt that Lockheed is adding up the numbers. However, they are behind what they were planning just a year ago that I wonder if there's something else in play. It can provide some risk reduction for the SB-1, but given that the SB-1 itself is supposed to fly next year and although S-97 could demonstrate scalability, is there a danger it needs to speedup or risk becoming OBE?
Sikorsky has multiple customers and variants of the S-97 in mind. The RQ-97 could possibly serve as the basis for a Vertical Unmanned Aerial System (VUAS) for the Marines and a Fire Scout for the Navy. In 2014, Sikorsky Aircraft vice president of research and engineering Mark Miller said that a civil variant of the S-97 would be “ideal” for offshore oil, search and rescue and VIP transport. I also wonder if a civil variant of the S-97 would be attractive as an air ambulance and for law enforcement applications. Perhaps these applications make continued development of the S-97 attractive without a commitment by the United States Army to purchase the aircraft as a aerial scout?












Source:
http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/2014-05-15/sikorsky-mulls-civil-version-s-97-raider
 

yasotay

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There is possibly a great market for Raider/X-2 technology IF the largest rotorcraft user buys/iinvest in the technology. It is very difficult to find comercial markets for untested technology. By that I mean that commercial users tend not to want to buy the investment in working through the inevitalbe maintenance faults that arrise with a brand new system.
I could be wrong here. The AW-609 seems to be bucking the rule. I wonder how well all of the electic VTOL projects will do without substancial government investment.
 

AeroFranz

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Electric VTOL is being pushed by Silicon Valley and its "Silly Money". They can throw A LOT of money at the issue.
 

yasotay

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The latest from Army Aviation land. Militarized concept aircraft.
 

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Triton

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From James Drew of Aviation Week on 11:28 AM - 27 Apr 2017:

Col. Bentley: FVL Capability Set 1 light armed reconnaissance still "No. 1" Army rotorcraft need (OH-58 replacement) #17summit
Source:
https://twitter.com/JamesDrewNews/status/857662687689527296
 

Triton

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"S-97 damaged in hard landing"

03 August, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Stephen Trimble Washington DC

Source:
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/s-97-damaged-in-hard-landing-439933/

A Sikorsky S-97 Raider crashed at 07:30 on 2 August at the company’s flight test center in West Palm Beach, Florida, the Lockheed Martin company says.

Few details of the incident were immediately available.

Local news photographs taken from a distance appear to show the compound helicopter prototype sitting on a runway with landing gear retracted.

Sikorsky says two crew members on board the S-97 escaped a hard landing without injury.

The S-97 was in a hover during a test flight when the incident occurred, Sikorsky says.
 

Triton

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"Sikorsky S-97 To Resume Flight Testing In 2018"
Sep 11, 2017 James Drew and Graham Warwick | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/sikorsky-s-97-resume-flight-testing-2018

Sikorsky has begun prepping its second S-97 Raider prototype for flight in 2018, taking over from aircraft No. 1 that was badly damaged in a hard landing on Aug. ...
 

Triton

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"Sikorsky reveals details of S-97 Raider hard landing as NTSB publishes initial report"
Posted on September 11, 2017 by Oliver Johnson

Source:
https://www.verticalmag.com/news/sikorsky-reveals-details-s-97-raider-hard-landing-ntsb-publishes-initial-report/

The hard landing suffered by Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider in early August was caused by issues with the flight control software as the aircraft performed a vertical takeoff at the beginning of a flight test, Sikorsky has confirmed.

The findings were revealed as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its preliminary report into the incident on Aug. 2, which significantly damaged the aircraft’s retractable landing gear, but caused no significant injuries to either of the two flight crew members on board.

In a conference call with media, Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations, said Sikorsky was “fully committed to the program” and is moving forward on returning to flight with the Raider in 2018 as the investigation into the hard landing continues.

Van Buiten said the incident took place at the beginning of that day’s flight test at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, after the aircraft had taxied to its takeoff position. He pointed to the “complex interaction between the ground, the landing gear, the flight control system, and the associated pilot interactions” as the fly-by-wire Raider transitioned from operations on the ground to operations in flight.

“In fly-by-wire helicopters, there are transitions in the flight controls that happen during the event, and in our analysis of the [hard landing], that transition didn’t go exactly as it should, and we’re making some changes to the flight control system software to accommodate that and ensure that it never happens again,” he said.

“We have been able to reproduce the event in our simulator and we are confident in operating with the NTSB to . . . get to the root cause and fully understand the issue.”

Van Buiten said the manufacturer had done a “deep dive” into all its fly-by-wire aircraft programs — which include the CH-53K King Stallion and CH-148 Cyclone — and found the software feature that caused the hard landing does not exist on those platforms.

The Raider first took flight on May 22, 2015, and is based on technology developed in Sikorsky’s X2 demonstrator — most notably its rigid coaxial main rotors and a variable-pitch pusher propeller, which enhance both the aircraft’s speed and its maneuverability.

Van Buiten said it was clear the hard landing had no relation to either of these pieces of technology.

“The flight control software issue has nothing to do with the X2 technology itself — the rigid rotor and pusher-propeller configuration; it is absolutely around this complex aircraft to ground interaction,” he said.

He added that the hard landing also illustrated the composite aircraft’s crashworthiness.

“Remember the Raider is an all-composite fuselage, aircraft-retractable landing gear, crashworthy seats, crashworthy fuel system, and we’re just delighted with how all of those systems behaved in the event,” he said.

“The landing gear sustained significant damage, but the flight crew sat in the cockpit, shut off the engines, shut off the electrical system, just checked things out, routinely opened the egress doors, climbed out of the helicopter, walked up to the test crew and started talking about the event.”

Sikorsky has more than 30 industry partners and suppliers on the Raider program, and Van Buiten said it is keeping them updated on the investigation and the program’s development “within the confines of the NTSB-releasable information.”

Sikorsky was in the process of expanding the Raider’s flight envelope at the time of the incident, having recorded over 100 hours of ground runs and 20 hours of flight testing on the aircraft.

The previous flight had taken the aircraft to 150 knots, with the accident flight scheduled to increase that speed to 180 knots. Sikorsky hoped the following flight would then explore the aircraft’s maximum speed, which it believes is over 220 knots.

The damaged aircraft was the first of two prototypes Sikorsky had built for the Raider program, but was the only one that was flight capable. Aircraft Two — which appeared at AUSA, the U.S. Army Association’s annual convention, in October 2015 — had been brought to a “mostly built, but not completely built” stage by Sikorsky, said Van Buiten.

“There was a notion of having it join the program and be exclusively focused on weapons, but we were still doing those studies and hadn’t made any final decisions,” he said. “We’re just delighted that we have this aircraft available. It’ll help us get on with the program faster than we think we otherwise would.”

With the future of Aircraft One still to be determined, Sikorsky is completing the build of Aircraft Two, incorporating changes that had been implemented on Aircraft One during flight testing, as well as preparing it to accommodate a weapons suite the manufacturer has been maturing in a systems integration lab.

Aircraft Two will then continue the envelope expansion that Aircraft One began, with flight testing set to resume in 2018. Beyond achieving new speeds, this will include demonstrations of maneuvers that are unique to the aircraft, said Van Buiten, such as the ability to hover nose down or nose up, rapid decelerations and accelerations from a landing zone, and 3-g turns.

Following that, it will be used for customer demonstrations and to start the weapons system maturation and demonstrations. The weapons package will include guns, the next generation Hellfire missile, and precision guided rockets.

Orginally developed for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program, which was subsequently put on indefinite hold, the Raider can carry six troops in its cabin, with Sikorsky highlighting its suitability for long-range reconnaissance missions and light attack.

Van Buiten said Sikorsky is using the Raider to mature the X2 technology for a possible Future Vertical Lift light application for the military, as well as using it as a “risk reducer” for the SB-1 Defiant — the larger high-speed rigid rotor coaxial rotorcraft it is developing with Boeing for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program.

Regarding the Defiant, Van Buiten said Boeing and Sikorsky are “deep into the build” of the aircraft, which is benefiting from the knowledge gained from the hard landing, as well as about 20 other lessons learned from the Raider program. He said the Defiant’s flight software had “similar features” to that of the Raider, so analysis is continuing as to whether the Defiant’s software needs modification.

First flight for the Defiant is still scheduled for 2018.
 

Triton

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"Lockheed Martin Reaffirms Support For Sikorsky’s Raider"
Second prototype will be completed to fulfill goals of high-speed helicopter program
Sep 14, 2017 James Drew and Graham Warwick | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/defense/lockheed-martin-reaffirms-support-sikorsky-s-raider

Sikorsky was tantalizingly close to achieving its goal of exceeding 220 kt. with the S-97 Raider coaxial-rotor helicopter when the prototype made a hard landing on Aug. 2, after experiencing flight control problems. But Lockheed Martin, which acquired Sikorsky in 2015 when the industry-funded Raider program was well underway, has been quick to reiterate its commitment to the high-speed light tactical helicopter.

The incident at Sikorsky’s development flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida, came as the 6,000-lb. Raider was taxiing out to begin its 15th test flight, with the target of achieving 180 kt.—its highest speed yet. The goal of exceeding 220 kt. was planned for the next flight, its 16th. Achieving that objective will now have to wait until after the second prototype is completed and flown in 2018.

The fly-by-wire (FBW) Raider was taxiing to its takeoff position when the mishap occurred. The digital flight control system unexpectedly transitioned from simple ground mode to augmented flight mode before the aircraft became airborne. The crew lifted into a hover but, unable to stabilize the helicopter, quickly put it back on the ground, the Raider coming down heavily, upright and level on the runway. The two company test pilots powered down the engine and shut off the electrics before egressing. The Raider suffered substantial damage, but they escaped with minor injuries— the impact-absorbing landing gear, composite airframe and crew seats working as designed.

Investigation is ongoing with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), but Sikorsky says its other fly-by-wire helicopters—the CH-53K and CH-148 Cyclone—are not affected, as implementation of the Raider’s triplex-redundant control system is different. But any lessons learned from the investigation are being shared with the Sikorsky/Boeing team developing the SB-1 Defiant Joint Multi-Role demonstrator. Expected to fly by mid-2018, the 30,000-lb. SB-1 shares the same coaxial-rotor/pusher-propeller X2 configuration and a similar FBW control system.

The NTSB has issued only a brief preliminary report, but the suspected cause is a flight-control software issue relating to the “complex interaction between the ground, the landing gear, the flight control system and the pilot,” says Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations. The failure has been reproduced in the S-97 flight simulator, and software changes are being made “to ensure it never happens again.”

Damage to the first prototype is a setback for an industry effort that has slowed significantly since its launch in 2010 as a $200 million follow-on to the Sikorsky-funded X2 Technology Demonstrator, which reached a speed of 262 kt. that year. The Raider first flew in May 2015 with the goal of achieving its key performance objectives by the middle of 2016. But changing customer plans, technical challenges and Sikorsky’s integration into Lockheed all slowed the pace.

The mishap was not related to the coaxial rigid-rotor X2 configuration, says Van Buiten, and Lockheed’s leadership has committed to return Raider to flight once the cause is fully established. Aircraft 1 will continue to support the investigation, so the second prototype, assembly of which had been halted, will be completed and flown in 2018. Changes made to the first prototype as a result of 20 hr. of flight tests and 100 hr. of ground runs will be incorporated into Aircraft 2 before it flies.

After shakedown flights, the goal is to pick up where Aircraft 1 left off and continue expanding the flight envelope beyond 150 kt., out to the maximum speed goal. But more than that, Sikorsky is looking at arming the second Raider for mission demos. Once the S-97 finally achieves its 220-kt. target, the company aims to demonstrate complex maneuvers, including 3g turns, hovering nose-up and nose-down using the prop, as well as rapid level-attitude acceleration and deceleration.

Sikorsky will also install a weapons suite and other mission systems now being matured in the Raider systems integration laboratory. The weapons will include podded machine guns, Lockheed’s next-generation Hellfire—the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile—and BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rocket.


When Raider was launched with support from more than 30 suppliers, Sikorsky had its sights set firmly on the U.S. Army’s Advanced Aerial Scout (AAS) requirement to replace the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. But AAS was shelved in 2013, and the OH-58Ds have now retired, replaced with reroled Boeing AH-64E Apaches. The Army’s priority has shifted to the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Medium program to replace the workhorse Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk—for which Sikorsky Boeing’s SB-1 is competing with Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor.

Lockheed’s restated, post-crash commitment to Sikorsky’s Raider reflects the high-speed helicopter’s continued value, both in reducing risk for the SB-1 and in keeping options alive for a future FVL Light program to develop a true replacement for the OH-58D armed scout, as well as the Army’s special-operations Boeing MH-6 Little Bird. “We remain bullish about the program,” says Van Buiten.
 

Triton

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"Second Raider prototype to fly by early 2018"
11 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

Source:
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/second-raider-prototype-to-fly-by-early-2018-442098/

Sikorsky will fly its second S-97 prototype early next year, following the crash of the first Raider helicopter in August.

No crew members were injured in the 2 August crash at Sikorsky’s flight test center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Following an analysis with the National Transportation Safety Board, Sikorsky traced the cause of the crash to a software issue and has corrected the problem in a simulator, Chris Van Buiten, vice-president of Sikorsky Innovations tells FlightGlobal at the annual AUSA conference in Washington, DC this week.

“It’s a very sophisticated fly-by-wire flight control issue. We’ve worked through it, corrected it and we’re moving on,” he says. “We don’t see any hardware changes. We were delighted with how all the systems behaved in the hard landing, including the fuselage, landing gear, seats and fuel systems.”

Sikorsky has already passed along its findings to the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant team, which shares a similar coaxial-rotor/pusher-propeller configuration based on X2 concept helicopter technology. While Sikorsky doesn’t plan on changing Raider’s outer-mould line or materials, the company is performing a detailed analysis on how the aircraft’s composite material behaved in the crash.

At the time of the accident, Sikorsky had both prototypes though the second was not completely built, Van Buiten says. The company has no plans to build a replacement for the first prototype, but that could remain as an option, he says.

The company is now pivoting its efforts toward returning the second aircraft to flying status, including finishing the Raider’s gearbox. Sikorsky is also using software to experiment with weapons integration on S-97. The company would test hellfire missiles, precision guided rockets and guns on Raider, with a possible demonstration slated for as early as 2019.
 

Triton

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Replaced Sikorsky S-97 roll-out ceremony videos from September 04, 2014 that were deleted on YouTube by Sikorsky.

See Reply #43
https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,22916.msg232551.html#msg232551
 

Triton

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"Autonomous Helicopters Seen as Wave of the Future"
2/20/2018
by Jon Harper

Source:
http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2018/2/20/autonomous-helicopters-seen-as-wave-of-the-future

QUANTICO, Va. — On a cold morning in December, a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter took off from Landing Zone Stork at Marine Corps Base Quantico. It flew about two miles before touching down in between buildings at Landing Zone Egret. After Marines on the ground unloaded cargo from the aircraft, it took off again and returned to LZ Stork. While the event might sound mundane, it could be a watershed moment in military aviation for one key reason — the Huey was performing all of these flight operations autonomously.

The demonstration of the autonomous aerial cargo/utility system prototype, also known as AACUS, offered a preview of what defense officials expect to see on future battlefields.

The technology is the product of a partnership between the Office of Naval Research and an industry team led by Aurora Flight Sciences, which is now a subsidiary of Boeing. The project has been in the works for several years. Aurora was first awarded a contract for prototype efforts in 2012.

The Marines have been using unmanned helicopters such as K-Max in Afghanistan for several years, but AACUS is different. It is not a platform, but a tool for upgrading older aircraft like the Huey to give them cutting-edge flight capabilities. It will require less input from personnel on the ground and will not be dependent on GPS for navigation, which reduces its vulnerability to electronic warfare attacks, officials said.

“This is more than just an unmanned helicopter,” ONR Executive Director Walter Jones said during remarks at the demonstration, which was attended by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and other military brass. “AACUS is an autonomy kit that can be placed on any rotary-wing platform and provide it with an autonomous capability.”

Fritz Langford, the project’s chief engineer at Aurora, said the technology includes platform-agnostic computer algorithms, commercial-off-the-shelf sensors and a robust flight control system.

“It has a software package that enables it to make mission decisions on its own,” Jones explained. “It has a suite of sensors that allows it to get information from the environment to inform its decisions. And it is pushing the envelope on autonomous capabilities.”

During several flights at the Quantico demonstration, the Huey dodged obstacles such as tree lines, buildings and landing zone hazards.

Jones envisioned a scenario where Marines at a forward operating base or other austere environment could call for resupply and have it delivered without putting air crews at risk.

“Imagine for a moment that you are part of a Marine Corps company deployed in a remote location in rough terrain,” he said. “You’re low on ammunition and water and batteries or even blood, and you place a request for resupply. … An AACUS-enabled helicopter can … navigate to the location even in a GPS-compromised area, it can determine the best location for a safe landing without the need for a forward ground control station, and do all of this in low-visibility conditions.”

The technology requires very little training for warfighters, Aurora representatives noted. Marine infantryman Cpl. Christopher Osterhaus said it only took him about 15 minutes to master the tablet that communicates with the system.

“I can specify what I want, where I want it and when I want it” by typing in grid coordinates or having the technology automatically pinpoint the tablet user’s location, he said during a press conference after the demonstration.

“As far as the tablet interface, it’s incredibly comparable to [ordering] an Uber or ordering a pizza,” he said. “Once you hit ‘submit’ you get something called mission view, and it [indicates] where the aircraft is, when it’s on its way to you, when it’s about to land and when it’s on the ground.”

After the supplies are offloaded and the landing zone has been cleared, “I swipe right and as I do that the bird begins to take off,” he added.
Marine Corps leaders are gung-ho about the technology and its warfighting implications.

The capability would be ideal for distributed logistics operations, said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for combat development and integration. “Autonomy is the future of where we’re going and it really ties into manned-unmanned teaming.”

Lt. Col. Dan Schmitt, head of the field testing branch in the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s experiments division, said his team envisions other uses for this capability.

“We’re looking at everything that is possible,” he said. “We’ve already talked about a system like this dropping off smaller autonomous unmanned systems that release another autonomous unmanned capability … that impacts the electromagnetic spectrum through jammers.”

It could also potentially be used for medical evacuation, intelligence collection and fire support, he noted.

“A system with the AACUS technology may be on a logistics mission but at the same time collecting electromagnetic information and feeding that to your targeting system that employs fires,” Schmitt said.

Although AACUS was developed for the Marine Corps, other services have expressed interest. Representatives from the Army and Navy attended the demonstration, Jones noted.

The prototype program is nearing its end. The technology is slated to transition to the Marine Corps for concept-based experimentation and operational exercises in the first quarter of calendar year 2018. Performance assessments from those events will inform technology maturation efforts and future autonomy programs over the next few years, said Steve Chisarik, AACUS program manager at Aurora.


Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (Sikorsky)

Other major autonomous helicopter projects are also moving forward. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has partnered with Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, on its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System program, known as ALIAS. Sikorsky has developed what it calls Matrix technology to enable autonomous flight for rotary-wing aircraft.

The ALIAS program is transitioning into phase three, said Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations. The aim is to deliver kits to the Army for use on Black Hawk helicopters. First flight of an optionally-piloted Black Hawk equipped with the technology is scheduled for 2018, he said in an interview with National Defense.

“We’re going to have one of the oldest airframes out there become one of the most advanced in terms of flight control,” he said.

Matrix includes high performance computing, software and sensors. The super computer that enables it to work is the size of a toaster, he noted.

Warfighters can use a tablet to set broad mission parameters such as where the cargo needs to be delivered, areas to avoid and other priorities.

“The autonomy system might generate a route plan and the human might look at it and say, ‘Oh, you know, I don’t like flying down that particular valley. I’d rather you fly down this other valley to keep the mission more covert’ or whatever,” Van Buiten said.

An operator can also tell the system what’s most important for a particular mission such as minimizing flight time, noise or operating costs, he added.

The company has already tested the technology over hundreds of flights hours after installing it on the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft, or SARA.

By the early 2020s, the company will be ready to deliver military and commercial products with the Matrix technology embedded in them from the start, Van Buiten said.

“We also have the ability to do kits to modify existing aircraft,” he said. “The Army has over 2,000 Black Hawks, [so] the kit approach could be a good fit for them.”

The technology has revolutionary potential and offers several key advantages, he said. The primary one is safety. In addition to having the ability to eliminate the need to put pilots in harm’s way for certain missions, the system is expected to reduce accident rates that often result from pilot error or low-visibility conditions.

The system’s sensors can detect objects thousands of feet away and map the environment, he explained. “The computer can jam through all the calculations on the current trajectory to see if there’s an emerging issue and can intervene and manage that issue such that the helicopter won’t fly into terrain.”

The Matrix algorithms and flight control system can also operate aircraft more efficiently than human pilots, Van Buiten said. Even seasoned air crews introduce extraneous inputs into platforms during operations, he explained. The super computer cuts down on those and can manage the onset of loads on a helicopter by making calculations and moving the controls in fractions of a second.

That has implications for sustainment.

“When we have the computer fly the airplane it can … reduce the wear and tear on the components pretty significantly, so that’s direct cost reduction,” he said.

The system can also be used when human pilots are on board the aircraft, he noted. In addition to enabling autonomous flight, it can be used to assist one-man or two-man air crews. By performing some of the more mundane flight tasks, it can free up pilots to focus on the tactics of the mission, he said.

While the Defense Department is currently eyeing the technology for unmanned logistics missions, it could potentially have other uses down the road such as troop transport, Van Buiten said.

“We don’t envision going to zero-pilot [mode] with passengers on board anytime soon, but that could be in the long-range roadmap,” he said. “That only happens after we’ve got the data to prove that that could be safe.”

Sikorsky has been experimenting with the technology in its S-97 Raider system integration lab. The aircraft is a prototype high-speed helicopter designed for reconnaissance and light attack missions.

“In that facility, we’ve integrated weapon systems and the autonomy,” Van Buiten said. “There’s a remarkable operational value there in that case — the combination of the high speed and the maneuverability of the Raider platform and the autonomy and weapons to do some remarkable things.”

However, the use of autonomous systems for missions other than logistics or intelligence-gathering will require a cultural change within the Defense Department, Schmitt and Van Buiten said. Officials will have to gain confidence in the systems over time and sort through ethical issues, they added.

Nevertheless, Sikorsky expects the technology to be widely adopted, so much so that the company is pumping internal research-and-development dollars into it.

“We continue to invest significantly inside the company with our Matrix technology and we’re maturing that … for both these commercial and military customers,” Van Buiten said.

Acquiring future vertical lift platforms for logistics, reconnaissance and attack missions is one of the Army’s top modernization priorities. For FVL, the service wants unmanned and optionally-manned helicopter variants that are survivable on modern and future battlefields, he noted. That could bode well for the kind of autonomy technologies that Sikorsky is developing.

“I think that’s where our Army customer is headed,” Van Buiten said. “They’re very informed and forward-leaning in making that decision, and it will provide them remarkable flexibility on the battlefield.”

Sikorsy also delivers aircraft to the other services and the private sector, he noted. “Ultimately this technology is going to be in every Sikorsky helicopter.”

The company is already in discussions with a variety of military and commercial customers. “We are inviting a lot of them to see it and use it,” he said. “Several of them are very eager to migrate the technology into the platforms that we make for them. So stay tuned.”
 

Triton

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“We architected the Raider system from the beginning to transition to being an optionally or optimally piloted aircraft,” said Chris Van Buiten, Sikorsky’s VP of technology and innovation. “Our forward-thinking development on Raider sees us moving from traditional circuit breakers to software-controlled circuit breakers, from traditional throttle controls to digital throttle controls, and going to the full fly-by-wire flight controls.”

One of the U.S. Army’s key research and development focus is driving competition among original equipment manufacturers, as the service evaluates precursor models to its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. That Army-led program intends to usher in a new generation of rotorcraft across the military, based on five capability sets, or mission profiles, within the next two decades.

Van Buiten leads Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider program, which is focused on matching the FVL program’s light variant requirements for light attack, reconnaissance and special operations missions.
The Sikorsky S-97 program takes advantage of the Raider’s autonomy suite.Photo courtesy of Sikorsky

One of the demonstrations of the S-97 program takes advantage of the Raider’s autonomy suite — allowing a flight crew on a “scramble mission” to jump in the Raider, push a button and enable a high-speed autonomous flight while they perform mission planning, alignments and prepare for their mission while the Raider flies itself.

Sikorsky’s partnership with GE Aviation has also been helpful in research and development around new engine control and engine interface technology.

“The digital engine control is so advanced that pilots can largely just load their flight plans and the aircraft will do the rest,” Van Buiten said. “The pilot is just putting in cyclic commands using the collective in low-speed flight. In high speed, we don’t even use collective; it’s just cyclic.”

In August, a flight-testing prototype version of the Raider suffered substantial damage after a hard landing during at Sikorsky’s developmental flight center in Florida.

“Experiencing that hard landing helped us learn how to sharpen the flight controls,” Van Buiten said. “We’re sharpening the software development process and focused on operations where the aircraft is transiting from ground to flight, as well as when it gets into high speeds above 200 kt.
Source:
http://digitaledition.rotorandwing.com/february-march-2018/appetite-for-disruption-a-rotorcraft-program-update/
 

Triton

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"Sikorsky modifies Raider helicopter to use US Army’s future engine"
By: Jen Judson

04/23/18

Source:
https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/aaaa/2018/04/20/sikorsky-modifies-raider-helicopter-to-use-us-armys-future-engine

WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky has engineered its S-97 Raider coaxial experimental helicopter to use the U.S. Army’s future engine in an attempt to present the aircraft as a strong and soon-to-be-ready contender for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift family of aircraft expected to come online in the 2030s.

Raider will be able to accept either one or two of the Improved Turbine Engine Program engines from the start, which will also help support bringing ITEP to fruition, Chris Van Buiten, the company’s vice president of technology and innovation, told Defense News in an interview.

“The engine in Raider is just a beautiful match,” he said.

The Army is said to be on track to award a contract to one of two teams currently developing a future helicopter engine in late 2018. The service awarded contracts to two separate teams to design future engines to replace an enormous portion of the service’s helicopters under the ITEP program. The Advanced Turbine Engine Company — a Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney team — was awarded a $154 million contract while GE Aviation was awarded a $102 million contract in August 2016.

ITEP is meant to replace every engine in both AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawks, and will provide both aircraft boosted capability from 3,000 horsepower to a 25 percent full-burn reduction.

It is also possible ITEP could be used in FVL aircraft, particularly in the lighter variant.

Raider currently flies with GE’s YT706-GE-700R engine.

While the Army has been adamant that it plans to first procure a medium-lift helicopter within the FVL program, the service has recently signaled it is more open to considering a lighter aircraft early on in the program capable of attack reconnaissance.

The Army’s largest aviation capability gap remains armed reconnaissance after the service decided to retire the OH-58D Kiowa and replace it with larger, more expensive AH-64 Apache attack helicopters teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft systems.

Van Buiten believes there is a case for the Army to first procure a light helicopter, of which Raider fits perfectly, because of the critical gap left when the Kiowa was retired.

Apache filling the gap now is “a big airplane for the reconnaissance role mission. As forces get pushed back by rapid-reaction rocket-kind of threats and will have to execute at a greater radius, I think the Apache is going to start to struggle in that recon role and have a lot of time on station,” he said.

While the Army is headed toward a clean-sheet designed helicopter in the future, it's still a matter of when. The service's new Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team will officially settle on a timeline in less than two years.

Sikorsky and Boeing are actually building a larger version of Raider called the SB-1 Defiant, which fits in the medium-lift class, and will fly as part of an Army demonstration called the Joint Multi-Role program that aims to evaluate the capabilities of two separate advanced helicopter concepts as it tries to shape the requirements for an FVL aircraft.

Bell Helicopter has designed the second demonstrator — a tilt-rotor called the V-280 Valor — which has been flying since late 2017.

While there’s a case to start with medium-lift, “you could argue that FVL light is just a smaller, lower-cost program,” Van Buiten said. “It’s hundreds of aircraft instead of thousands and might be a prudent way to get the ball rolling, get a win on the board, move FVL forward. It’s kind of a good warmup for a larger FVL program, and the multimission capability of Raider can give them a lot of flexibility.”

The Raider program experienced a setback last year when the helicopter sustained “substantial damage” from a hard landing during a flight test at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, in early August 2017.

The hard landing has not stopped Sikorsky from driving its work on the aircraft forward and the company is taking its second copy of Raider and preparing it to take flight this year as early as this spring, Van Buiten said.

“It’s a really exciting time, and we are seeing, even though we are in this dwell time not flying, we are seeing growing customer interest in the program,” he said.
 

Triton

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"Bell Could Answer S-97 With Compound Helicopter"
Apr 23, 2018 James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/bell-could-answer-s-97-compound-helicopter

Bell says it “will not cede” any category of the U.S. Army-led Future Vertical Lift program to rivals, especially to Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider. The company has revealed to Aerospace DAILY work on two designs aimed at the lighter categories of the FVL “program of programs,” one being a winged compound helicopter with no tail rotor or push propeller. Jeffrey Schloesser, Bell’s executive vice president of strategic pursuits, says his company does not believe ...
 

fredymac

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Video from Army AAAA. Nothing new but says flight testing resuming spring 2018.

https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/989111975484514304
 

AeroFranz

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Triton said:
"Bell Could Answer S-97 With Compound Helicopter"
Apr 23, 2018 James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/bell-could-answer-s-97-compound-helicopter

Bell says it “will not cede” any category of the U.S. Army-led Future Vertical Lift program to rivals, especially to Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider. The company has revealed to Aerospace DAILY work on two designs aimed at the lighter categories of the FVL “program of programs,” one being a winged compound helicopter with no tail rotor or push propeller. Jeffrey Schloesser, Bell’s executive vice president of strategic pursuits, says his company does not believe ...
Resurrect UCAR?
 

yasotay

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AeroFranz said:
Triton said:
"Bell Could Answer S-97 With Compound Helicopter"
Apr 23, 2018 James Drew | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report

Source:
http://aviationweek.com/awindefense/bell-could-answer-s-97-compound-helicopter

Bell says it “will not cede” any category of the U.S. Army-led Future Vertical Lift program to rivals, especially to Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider. The company has revealed to Aerospace DAILY work on two designs aimed at the lighter categories of the FVL “program of programs,” one being a winged compound helicopter with no tail rotor or push propeller. Jeffrey Schloesser, Bell’s executive vice president of strategic pursuits, says his company does not believe ...
Resurrect UCAR?
Lot of work went into UCAR. Not a bad place to start.
 

seruriermarshal

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Back in the air - Sikorsky S-97 Raider returns to flight with 90-min sortie by second prototype on June 19 at West Palm Beach, Florida. Next step is to pick up where Raider #1 left off (at 150kt) and push on to beyond 200kt. Also a boost for the Sikorsky Boeing SB-1 Defiant
 

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flateric

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Rumors that #1 was back on track a long ago after mishap.
 

bobbymike

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http://aviationweek.com/future-aerospace/sikorsky-raider-flies-again-us-army-details-armed-scout-plan

The U.S. Army has briefed industry on its plan to conduct a competitive fly-off in 2023 between prototype armed scout rotorcraft as Sikorsky pushes ahead with flight testing of its S-97 Raider.

The S-97 high-speed light helicopter completed a 90-min. flight from West Palm Beach, Florida, on June 28, the second since returning to flight on June 19 and the 17th overall for the Raider program.
 

TomcatViP

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second Sikorsky S-97 Raider flying

https://youtu.be/q1_UdN9e6p4

Longer video of second @Sikorsky S-97 Raider flying - shows hover, low-speed maneuvers and up-and-away flying with propulsor turning - coaxial rigid-rotor compound X2 configuration combines high speed with helicopter's low-speed agility and some unique capabilities using the prop
 

seruriermarshal

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S-97 Raider exceeds 200 kt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elh0IM7Zp2U&feature=youtu.be
 

sferrin

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I almost hope they buy this if only to get the industry to see the wisdom of putting money into R&D again. Look how it paid off for Lockheed with stealth.
 
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