Sikorsky and Boeing this morning unveiled an aerodynamically slicker version of its SB-1 “Defiant” entry for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft competition (FLRAA). The “Defiant X” has airframe enhancements to improve aerodynamics and reduce the aircraft’s thermal signature. Like the SB-1, the X features a rigid coaxial rotor system and pusher propeller, enabling high-speed cruising while maintaining low-speed handling qualities that increase survivability in high-threat air defense environments.
The SB-1 began flight testing in 2019 and hit speeds of 230 knots—in descent—in October 2020. The X is expected to be faster. It is competing against Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor, which has achieved speeds of 300 knots, for the FLRAA award that is expected sometime next year. The winner of the competition—that could be worth up to $40 billion—will potentially produce thousands of aircraft to replace Sikorsky UH-60 series Blackhawk medium twins that have been in service since 1979.
"We are ready to deliver unparalleled capabilities backed by proven technologies that will truly transform the Army's mission today, with room to grow and adapt to the missions of tomorrow," said Andy Adams, Sikorsky vice president of future vertical lift. "Defiant X not only includes the transformational aircraft—a maneuverable, survivable, lethal weapon system—it also leverages Sikorsky's and Boeing's advanced manufacturing capabilities."