Airborne Defiant Helicopter Lives Up to Its Name, Hits 230 Knots

Defiant helicopter 11 photos
Photo: Lockheed Martin/Youtube
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They call it Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), and it’s the name given by the U.S. Army and several defense contractors to a program that will see, among others, the replacement of the aging Black Hawk come into being.
Launched in 2019, the program is already fairly advanced, with Defiant helicopter prototypes made by Sikorsky, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin already being flown to test capabilities. The last such exercise, of which we learned at the end of last week, managed to get the aircraft to the speed of 230 knots, which is 265 mph (426 kph).

That’s significantly higher than what the Black Hawk is capable of, but just another step towards an even greater speed, as the Army is looking for a machine that could fly twice as far and twice as fast as the one it will be replacing.

The flight, fragments of which you can see in the video attached below, was also used to test the aircraft’s maneuvering and, according to the lead test pilot for the project, Bill Fell, all worked beautifully.

The Army’s plan is to have the new helicopters in service at the start of the next decade, so there’s still a long time to go. For the makers of the Defiant, that means a lot of testing, with the next phase scheduled to put the aircraft through its paces to see how it works when it comes to lifting and handling at low speed.

The Defiant is a build with counter-rotating blades up top, working together with another, vertical propeller at the rear. It also packs fly-by-wire controls, and integrated auxiliary propulsion.

By all accounts, the next time we’ll see the Defiant will be when it nails future tests, as the companies making it don't call it the “fastest, most maneuverable and most survivable military helicopter in history” if they didn’t know what they were talking about.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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