Helicopters have helped humans achieve things that would have never been possible before they took to the skies. They've transported emergency patients to hospitals, taken journalists to report on events as they unfold, and even helped the U.S. take out 9/11 mastermind terrorist Osama bin Laden.
But as technology capabilities have become greater, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Quantico, Virginia, took on a new challenge. That was to design a helicopter that could go faster without changing any of the basic features of the traditional chopper -- a difficult task, to be sure. Speeds that helicopters have been able to reach have been limited because rotor blades can only spin so fast without breaking the sound barrier.
At least until now.
Sikorsky unveiled the S-97 Raider yesterday, which will be capable of hitting speeds of up to 270 mph. The Raider is different from other choppers in that it has two rotor blades on top, both spinning in opposite directions to ensure it doesn't spin the chopper out of control. The model also has a propeller on the back which increases its speed.
The fastest helicopter that exists today is the Lynx with a recorded speed of 248 mph. The Eurocopter X3 design would be capable of reaching 293 mph, but production of that design is years away, Foxtrot Alpha reported.
While Sikorsky doesn't have a production contract or anyone to fund full production yet, the company hopes to catch the U.S. military's attention. Its aiming to replace the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, which has benefited the U.S. during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but is coming of age.
Congress saw the Raider as a viable replacement for the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior until sequestration cuts took effect, hitting the nation's Defense Department the hardest. After that Congress canceled considering it, citing financial concerns, Foxtrot Alpha also reported.
With sequestration now over, the company is pushing harder than ever to secure a contract with the federal government. That much is clear from the official unveiling yesterday.
Here it is! The @Sikorsky #S97 Raider. pic.twitter.com/tfJC9ljurM
Watch the video below to see how the design became a fascinating reality:
(H/T: Foxtrot Alpha)
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