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Sikorsky and Boeing Team Submit New Army Helicopter Design

SB-1 Defiant. Sikorsky Photo

SB-1 Defiant. Sikorsky Photo

A joint Sikorsky-Boeing team has submitted their initial design for a new high-speed compound helicopter called the SB-1 Defiant to the U.S. Army.

“Last week we submitted our initial design and risk report to the customer,” said Doug Shidler, one of the two co-program directors for the industry team, during a Tuesday teleconference. “Next week we will be conducting our initial design and risk review with them.”

The high-speed compound helicopter design is the team’s entry into the Army’s Joint Multirole (JMR) risk reduction effort for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program that is intended to replace the long-serving Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk.

Eventually, a derivative of the FVL could replace the U.S. Navy’s MH-60S/R helicopters under the MH-XX program—the service is a partner on the Army led effort.

Thus far, Shidler said that the Sikorsky-Boeing team has completed a preliminary design review for the Defiant aircraft and are about to start working on the detailed design. There will be a final design and risk review next year, Shidler said. If all goes as planned, the Defiant will fly in 2017.

The FVL aircraft could enter service in the 2030s if the Pentagon funds the program to fruition—but given the uncertainly of future budgets, it is not a foregone conclusion.

While the team will not share the specific performance of the SB-1 aircraft, the general design requirements for the FVL call for a cruise speed of 230 knots, a range of 424 kilometers and hovering at 6000ft density altitude during a 95 degree Fahrenheit day.

To achieve those performance targets—especially the speed component, which is beyond the capabilities of any conventional helicopter—the aircraft uses co-axial rigid rotors coupled with a propulsor unit. The Sikorsky X-2 high-speed prototype aircraft pioneered the design concept that is being used on Defiant a few years ago.
There are four competitors in the JMR demonstration effort—the Sikorsky-Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Karem Aircraft and AVX.

  • 2IDSGT

    I’ll call this the frontrunner. Spinny thing on top, spinny thing in the back, doors on the sides…. a familiar footprint.

    • Jason Priestley

      Truly innovative.

  • Secundius

    I think the new helicopter design should incorporate “A Swap Out Module” design configuration, This will give the helicopter more flexibility, simplify logistics, make it easier to maintain, make it more export friendly and make it more mission capable.

  • old guy

    AT LAST. After the fiasco of the V22, the battle for a compound helicopter, fought long and hard by my old friend, Frank Piasecki may now be won. It is time to cashier that multi-billion dollar 23 passenger absurdity, which was turned down by the President as his new helo and by the Attack team that got Bin Laden. No matter that former Navy Secretary (and battleship sponsor) John Lehman. put his plea in for this fiasco, whatever his reasons were, the light is shining through this Congressionally-forced program (there is a contact related to it in EVERY State to assure support). The common sense design of a rotor, sized and designed only for lift, and an axial propeller for thrust must seem obvious to any sensible Aero.


    Agree that Kaman and Piasecki technology has been wasted for decades both in civilian and military vertical lift applications. But, despite the fiasco of the 20 year procurement of the Osprey, and the horrible cost overruns, in the end – we now have a 20-24 passenger 230 knot 800-
    1000 NM VTOL platform that is now functional, reasonably reliable, and has been deployed for combat operations successfully to the harsh conditions of th Middle East!! The tilt rotor concept has been proven and the bugs have been worked out over many years of effort. How many hundreds of billions do we need to spend to build a more helicopter-like FVL platform that carries 10-12 personnel that goes 230 knots? Are two FVLs going to cost less than one V-22 to carry the same 20-24 soldiers, sailors, or Marines over the same distance? Our defense industry will screw up FVL with reliability issues, cost overruns, delays, just like F-35 & Comanche. Bird in the hand…