SB-1 Defiant completes testing program

Lockheed Martin

The prototype of the SB-1 Defiant helicopter has completed Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) mission profile flights intended to test its range, maneuverability and other characteristics. 

According to Lockheed Martin, the helicopter passed the tests with flying colors, demonstrating an ability to perform confined landings, low-level flights, rapidly accelerate and decelerate, as well as carrying out some impressive maneuvers. 

“We fully demonstrated DEFIANT’s ability to execute the FLRAA mission profile by flying 236 knots in level flight, then reducing thrust on the propulsor to rapidly decelerate as we approached the confined, and unimproved, landing zone,” Bill Fell, chief test pilot at Sikorsky, said in a Lockheed Martin press release. 

The helicopter is a joint production between Boeing and Sikorsky (a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin). SB-1 (often stylized as SB>1) has been in development since at least 2017, succeeding previous similar programs, such as the Sikorsky S-97 Raider. 

It is a compound helicopter with coaxial rotors, meaning that it has an auxiliary power system and a propeller at the rear for additional propulsion. Such a design will, according to Sikorsky and Boeing, allow the helicopter to reach speeds in excess of 250 knots (460 km/h). For a comparison, the maximum speed of the UH-60 is 159 knots (294 km/h). 

The SB-1 is also claimed to have twice the range of the UH-60, as well as superior low-speed handling characteristics. 

The helicopter is participating in the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) competition, which aims to replace a range of previous-generation helicopters, such as the UH-60 and the AH-64 Apache.  

This SB-1 is a prototype, with Sikorsky and Boeing planning to modify the model in the future, adapting it to various other roles, including a gunship variant.  

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