The U.S. Army has an urgent need for a next-generation armed reconnaissance helicopter, and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit appears to have the solution. It’s called the S-97 Raider, and it is so much more capable that the Army’s current fleet of rotorcraft that a revolution in light helicopter performance is in the making. Compared with legacy helicopters, Raider offers 100% more speed and range, a 50% decrease in turning radius, a 50% reduction is acoustic signature, and a 40% increase in payload. Its counter-rotating main rotors afford unprecedented agility in both hover and maneuverability, while its onboard electronics deliver state-of-the-art protection. Raider was originally conceived to replace the Army’s Cold War scout helicopters, but when the service ran out of money for a replacement program, Sikorsky kept Raider development going with its own funds. As result, Sikorsky now has what looks to be by far the best next-generation armed recon helicopter in the world — not to mention a highly effective light attack, assault, medivac and rescue chopper. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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