The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 DEFIANT helicopter has taken its first flight at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach site in Florida.

The aircraft, developed by Sikorsky (a Lockheed Martin Company) and Boeing aims to help inform the next generation of military helicopters as part of the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift programme.

Watch the flight:

The DEFIANT is designed to fly at nearly twice the speed and twice the range of conventional helicopters while retaining “the very best, if not better, low-speed and hover performance of conventional helicopters,” Sikorsky says.

X2 tech

The helicopter uses what Sikorsky calls ‘X2’ technology and has two coaxial main rotors as well as a rear-mounted pusher propulsor. The aircraft is participating in the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role-Medium Technology Demonstrator programme.

Data from DEFIANT will help the Army develop requirements for new utility helicopters expected to enter service in the early 2030s.

David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift, said: “The design and development of DEFIANT has revealed the capability advancement that is truly possible for future vertical lift.

“Clearly, the performance, speed and agility of DEFIANT will be a game-changer on the battlefield and we look forward to demonstrating for the US Army the tremendous capabilities of this aircraft.”

Dan Spoor, vice president, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift, added: “This design provides for exceptional performance in the objective area, where potential enemy activity places a premium on manoeuvrability, survivability and flexibility. We are thrilled with the results of today’s flight and look forward to an exciting flight test programme.”

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