The S-97 RAIDER is a next-generation light tactical prototype helicopter capable of carrying six troops and external weapons that will redefine helicopter flight during the 21st century, according to its creators.
Sikorsky plans to build two prototypes of the S-97 as demonstrators. One prototype (P1) will be used for flight testing, while the second (P2) is planned for use as a demonstrator.
The first prototype was planned to fly in late 2013 or early 2014. Sikorsky started construction of the two prototypes in October 2012.
In September 2013, Sikorsky began final assembly of the first S-97 following delivery of the single-piece, all-composite fuselage by Aurora Flight Sciences.
In February 2014, construction of the first S-97 prototype was one-quarter complete. Simulated bird strikes testing had been conducted on the fuselage at speeds of up to 235 kn (435 km/h; 270 mph), the S-97’s expected maximum flight speed. Drop tests were also performed to ensure the fuel tanks’ safety in the event of a crash. Sikorsky is exploring civil applications for the S-97, such as transporting personnel between offshore oil platforms.
Sikorsky and partner Boeing are to use the S-97’s technology and design process as a basis to develop the SB-1 Defiant, a high-speed rigid rotor co-axial rotorcraft, for the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) programme.