By Bijan Razzaghi
Boeing and Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin have rolled out the SB-1 Defiant prototype for the FVL competition. The roll out took place on December 26th for the (JMR-TD) part of the FVL program. The SB-1 is Sikorsky’s second FVL aircraft to be developed with the S-97 Raider flying in 2015. Both compound helicopters the SB-1 is designed to replace the UH/MH-60 Blackhawk and eventually the MH-60R/S with a specialized naval variant. The SB-1 utilizes a coaxial rotor and pusher propeller which gives the aircraft a cruising speed twice as fast as the existing helicopters in service. The aircraft is set to fly in 2019.
The SB-1s competitor is the V-280 Valor which had its maiden flight in december of 2017. The V-280 Valor utilizes a tilt rotor design much like the V-22 Osprey. The current prototypes of each aircraft are the utility variant while only concepts of the attack variants have been seen. Those aircraft will replace the AH-64 Apache. The two variants will share common components for easier maintenance and compatibility much like the AH-1Z and UH-1Y.
The SB-1 design will be adapted for various different roles including Special Operations which will utilize a inflight refueling probe, and terrain following radar. The standard utility variants might include a refueling probe as well. The SB-1 could also be adopted to fulfil the MH-XX role being configured with ASW systems and folding rotor blades.
The designs will take part in a fly-off with the chosen design achieving IOC by 2030. During the Future Vertical Lift conference in Washington DC industry experts predicted the time period between testing and initial operating capability might be sooner then previous programs due to the urgent need for new battlefield platforms and off the shelf technology such as power plants, sensors and weapon systems.
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