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Air Platforms

Sikorsky-Boeing reveal FVL attack helo concept

11 April 2017
A screenshot of a Sikorsky-Boeing video showing the SB>1 Defiant-based transport (rear) and attack (front) variants for the US Army's FVL concept. Source: Sikorsky-Boeing

Sikorsky-Boeing has revealed a Future Vertical Lift (FVL) attack helicopter concept based on the SB>1 Defiant that it is developing for the US Army's Joint MultiRole-Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD)/FVL effort.

The concept, which features in a promotional video posted online by the partnership on 10 April, shows an attack variant of the SB>1 Defiant co-axial compound helicopter flying alongside the baseline transport helicopter. While both platforms appear to share much in terms of commonality, the attack variant features the twin-seat tandem cockpit, weapon-festooned stub-wings, and chin-mounted gun that are synonymous with this class of rotorcraft.

The Department of Defense (DOD) has launched its JMR-TD/FVL programme to create a family of platforms to replace its current helicopters. This family is to be divided into FVL Medium (to replace the Apache and Black Hawk platforms) and FVL Heavy (to replace the Chinook).

The US Army's current emphasis is on FVL Medium, and it is for this requirement that the SB>1 Defiant and the Bell Helicopter V-280 Valor are being developed (in addition to Boeing-Sikorsky and Bell, the army has awarded contracts to AVX and Karem to continue their research into future helicopter technologies).

While FVL Medium is one requirement, it might not necessarily be satisfied with a single platform. It could be that FVL Medium includes a derived attack platform along the lines of the concept shown in the Sikorsky-Boeing video, or perhaps a bespoke solution such as the Sikorsky S-97 Raider.

Both Sikorsky-Boeing and Bell Helicopter were downselected in October 2014 to develop and demonstrate their SB>1 Defiant and V-280 Valor platforms respectively by the end of 2017.

While Sikorsky-Boeing is building on the former's X2 to develop a compound co-axial helicopter for the Defiant, Bell has opted to continue with its tiltrotor development for the Valor (AVX is maturing its co-axial compound helicopter design, while Karem is focusing on its Optimum Speed Tilt-Rotor [OSTR] concept).

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