Sikorsky-Boeing joint effort for Army’s assault aircraft program makes first flight

Enlarge / The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant. (credit: Sikorsky/Boeing) The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant, one of two aircraft competing for the US Army's Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program, has finally made its first flight—a short bit of hovering around an airfield at a Sikorsky facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. The flight comes over 15 months after the Bell V-280 Valor (the other competitor for the program to replace the Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk) took flight. But the reasons for the delay are pretty straightforward: the SB-1 prototype is only the fourth actual aircraft ever built using Sikorsky's Advancing Blade Concept rotor design, while the V-280 is based on the (relatively) mature technology behind the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor. The Defiant helicopter uses two stacked, contra-rotating rigid composite rotors for its lift and a pusher propeller for thrust at high speeds. Since it is a true helicopter, it has a much smaller footprint than…

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