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BREAKING DEFENSE: After years of secrecy and CGI, we’re finally getting to see the Sikorsky-Boeing dream team’s SB>1 Defiant ultra-high-speed helicopter in real life. Unfortunately, Defiant is still on the ground, not flying: It was supposed to take its first flight this month, but that’s been pushed back until early 2019.
That puts the Sikorsky-Boeing team more than a year behind archrival Bell, their competitor for the massive Future Vertical Lift program, whose V-280 Valor has been flying for more than a year. But at least part of the delay is due to how revolutionary the Defiant is compared to Valor — and the difference between designs is why it’s so crucial that we see full testing of them both.
Where most helicopters would have a tail rotor, the Defiant has a pusher propeller. That propeller allows Defiant to reach turboprop speeds, like a tiltrotor, but, unlike a tiltrotor, Defiant never stops being a helicopter. Sikorsky and Boeing say that will make for a much more agile aircraft, especially at low speeds. Now they finally have a finished prototype for testing to prove those claims.