The Sikorsky S-97 Raider hit an important milestone Friday with the successful first flight of its experimental rotorcraft.
The S-97, with two pilots, took off at the company's West Palm Beach, Fla., facility about 7 a.m. and performed all of its proscribed movements over roughly an hour. The flight test took on the basics — three take-offs and landings, and all cardinal movements at 10 knots — before more advanced tests over the year.
"This was, we feel, a really spectacular day for Sikorsky and aviation in general," said Mark Miller, Sikorsky's vice president for research and engineering. "It's not every day you have a first flight, and when you add on top of that a very differentiated, new and compelling product like the S-97 Raider, it makes it even more special.
"We're very excited, it was everything we wanted it to be and more, and it's the start of a new generation of helicopters and capabilities that we're really excited about," Miller said.
With the platform, Sikorsky officials said the company was firmly planting its flag for the Army's future vertical lift - light concept and armed aerial scout requirement. The S-97 was envisioned at one point as a contender replacement for the US Army's OH-58 Kiowa Scout, but the Army changed plans and scuttled the armed aerial scout for budgetary reasons, using the AH-64 Apache on an interim basis.
breaking my rules today...