Sikorsky aircraft is revving up for the first test flight of what could become the fastest helicopter ever fielded in battle: The recently unveiled 5.300-pound X2 demonstrator attack chopper, built to reach sustained speeds of 250 knots. “For a light tactical helicopter, the X2 could be arrayed with a gun, rockets or some more precise weapons like Hellfire. We are in early discussions with customers to see what their needs are,” said Jim Kagdis, program manger for advanced programs, Sikorsky Aircraft.p If the speed of 250 knots is achieved and sustained, the X2 helicopter will be almost 100 knots faster than the current Apache attack helicopter, which hits maximum speeds of 170 knots./pp The X2 is built with two overlapping lightweight composite rotorblades, the same 1,400 horsepower engine once built for the canceled Comanche helicopter, and a pusher prop providing thrust from the rear of the aircraft, Kagdis said./pp If built and deployed as intended, the 250 knot high-speed X2 helicopter would nearly double the current speed of the U.S.Army UH-60 Black Hawk, also made by Sikorsky, which flies at a maximum speed of 135 knots./ppArmy Aviation leaders are closely watching the X2, which is now going through ground runs in anticipation its first test flight later this year from a test site in Elmira, N.Y./pp “I like what they are attempting to do, but I want to see it go 250 knots. When I see it go 250 knots, I want it to be able to maintain the same agility that you have with conventional rotorcraft,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Stephen Mundt, who directs the Army Aviation Task Force./pp X2 demonstrator was unveiled last month at a helicopter show in Houston, Texas./ppThe helicopter is designed to fly at unprecedented speeds for a helicopter while maintaining the characteristic maneuverability of lightweight tactical helicopters, Kagdis sad./pp “This is designed to operate like a helicopter. It has low-speed maneuverability and agility. It has helicopter attributes at low speed, but a smooth, consistent almost jet-quality like quality ride at the 250 knot speed,” said Kagdis./pp The X2 demonstrator is also built with so-called fly-by-wire technology, allowing the aircraft to fly automatically in the event that a pilot is injured, Kagdis said./pp “The X2 could be chosen for those missions that require speed. Maybe a light, tactical helicopter for a special ops community, that allows you to launch, go 250 knots into the area of operations and then operate like a helicopter. Then the speed will allow you to get out and go to your next mission,” said Kagdis./pp The added speed has generated some early interest from the military medical evacuation community, where getting to a casualty fast can often be the difference in a life-threatening injury./pp”The EMS operators were immediately able to say speed gives me the ability to get to the accident earlier and supply medical care and get them back to a facility,” said Kagdis./pp Even if the speed is achieved, it is unclear whether the services will ultimately bring the helicopter into their inventory./pp”Do you still have the same level of payload capability? Did my fuel consumption go up so I get one-third the distance? All those things will have to be balanced,” said Mundt./pSource:;c=AIRamp;s=TOP

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