Defiant exceeds 100 knots

Defiant exceeds 100 knots

WASHINGTON — The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant coaxial demonstrator flew over 100 knots in a flight test Jan. 13 as the aircraft — built for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program — continues to expand its flight envelope in weekly sorties.

The aircraft also maneuvered at 30-degree bank turns in the flight, a test of its agility, at Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky’s Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Defiant has been flying for nearly a year. It’s first flight was in March 2018 after a delay to the program to challenges mostly related to the manufacturing its rotor blades.

The program seems to have picked up the pace. In October, Ken Eland, Boeing’s director and manager of its FLRAA program, told reporters that the aircraft flew three times in March and April, but the company took a pause in flight operations after discovering an issue with the gearbox of the propulsion system test bed, or PSTB, which the team is using for extensive ground tests of the aircraft.

Defiant was back up in the air by Sept. 24 when it flew in every direction at speeds of 20 knots. The company said last fall that it planned to push the aircraft to 40 knots and believed it would be able to hit top speeds of 250 knots, which is more than the 230-knot requirement set by the Army.

The aircraft is one of two demonstrators flying as part of the Army’s JMR TD program, which is meant to inform the service’s Future Vertical Lift programs of record, specifically a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) the Army wants to field by 2030.

The other demonstrator is Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor demonstrator, which as been flying for over two years and recently completed an autonomous test flight series in December.

While the official JMR TD phase has ended, according to the Army, both Valor and Defiant continue to fly as both teams work to drive down risk related to technology development that would ultimately help a possible program of record move more quickly down the road.

Even though the two demonstrators are in different places in their flight test plans, Maj. Gen. Thomas Todd, the program executive officer for Army aviation, said earlier this month that the Army wasn’t planning on waiting for every competitor to reach the same goal posts before proceeding. The only advantage a vendor might have in meeting timelines is that it is able to burn down risk in technology development, he added.

The Army is preparing to award an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contract to begin a Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CDRR) effort in March. An OTA is a type of contract that enables rapid prototyping. The CDRR will consist of two phases that last approximately one year each.

“In the CDRR, we’re really trying to develop a weapons system, not the tech demonstrator,” Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of the Army’s aviation modernization, said recently. “So we’re trying to take it to the next level.”

Source : Jen Judson Link to Author

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