WASHINGTON — The Sikorsky-Boeing developed SB-1 Defiant coaxial demonstrator aircraft hit 232 knots in a descent, and 211 knots in straight and level flight, meeting the U.S. Army’s speed requirements for its future long-range assault aircraft it plans to field by 2030.
In the Oct. 12 flight, the aircraft was using about two-thirds prop torque and engine power to achieve the speeds.
“We are excited about the results we are seeing and what the future holds for our ability to bring this capability to the warfighter,” the Sikorsky-Boeing team said in a statement to Defense News.
The team continues to “make great progress as we advance Defiant’s rigorous flight test program,” the statement said. “With every flight, as we continue to increase Defiant’s speed, angle of bank and rate of climb, we are gathering important data, expanding our speed and maneuverability envelope and validating our modeling and simulation tools.”
Defiant was close to hitting the 230-knot goal in June when it reached a speed of 205 knots. The demonstrator hit 100 knots in January.
Defiant and Bell’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor demonstrator were built for the Army to evaluate what is in the realm of the possible for a future medium-lift aircraft. The technology demonstration phase has ended, but both teams were chosen to continue into a competitive demonstration and risk-reduction phase that is ongoing. The companies are expected to compete head-to-head to build and aircraft for the Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program.
While Valor first flew in December 2017, Defiant did not fly until March 2019 due to issues manufacturing the rotor blades.
The Army this month passed through the Army Requirements Oversight Council’s gauntlet and received preliminary approval of its abbreviated capabilities development document, bringing the aircraft a step closer to competitive procurement.
Sikorsky and Bell are also competing to build prototypes for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, which will result in one being chosen to build production aircraft for the service.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.