Thursday, May 14, 2009

X2 Marks Sikorsky's Spot for ARH

X2 Marks Sikorsky's Spot for ARH: "

Watch out for on-the-spot reporting later from Bettina Chavanne at the Quad-A show, where Sikorsky has taken the wraps off a full-scale mockup of its X2 Technology Light Tactical Helicopter (LTH) concept.

blog post photo
Photo: Sikorsky

A much smaller model of the coaxial-rotor LTH has been making the rounds of the shows for a year or so now, so the mockup's unveiling at the Army Aviation Association of America show is significant. The Army is looking for an armed reconnaissance helicopter to replace the cancelled Bell ARH-70, but says its recent request for information showed nothing was available off the shelf to meet its requirements. So it's gone back to square one and started a new analysis of alternatives.

Sikorsky, meanwhile, says it couldn't'deliver the high-speed X2 LTH before 2017-18, so its strategy seems to be to offer the Army the carrot of a completely new capability - if it can soldier on for a few more years with a combination of Kiowa Warriors, Apaches and unmanned aircraft in the armed scout role. The X2 would bring high speed with helicopter agility and the ability to go from the hover to 250kt and back without any rotary/fixed-wing mode changes.

Sikorsky's X2 Technology demonstrator is due back in the air shortly after the final mods to prepare for high-speed testing - connecting the pusher prop, fairing over the rotor hubs and making the gear retractable. The company expects to'pass its 250kt speed target by year end - which should mean the results will be available in time for consideration by the Army as it analyzes its alternatives.


(Via Ares.)

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