Sikorsky-Boeing is set to conduct the maiden flight of the SB>1 Defiant co-axial compound helicopter some months later than originally scheduled, but the delay should have no adverse effect on the Pentagon's wider Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort, senior programme officials said on 18 April.
The first flight of the partnership's Joint MultiRole - Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) platform will now take place in the first half of 2018 rather than during the latter half of 2017, as was the US Army's original schedule, though this will have no impact on the service's future FVL acquisition plans, programme leaders told reporters.
"Honestly, nothing significant has happened that has caused us delay - we have not encountered any problems," Sikorsky Vice President of Future Vertical Lift and Mission Systems, Dan Spoor, said, adding, "It is just a process that we have been following, and while some things have not been happening as quickly as we would like there has been no negative elements [to our programme].
"We are marching down the path, and have stayed lock-step with our customer who fully understands and supports where we are because there is the belief that when we do fly we will have already validated all of our components, and we will have a much more risk-reduced flight test programme. The flight test programme will probably last for a year, and as we start to fly the aircraft and expand the envelope we will be doing it with more confidence than would be the case without the [current] risk-reduction effort.
"Based on all of our conversations with the customer, we believe that our flight test programme fully supports their needs and [the delay] will not have a negative impact on their [FVL] acquisition strategy at all." The other party in the US Army's JMR-TD effort, Bell Helicopter, remains on course to fly its V-280 Valor tiltrotor before the end of the year.
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