The S-97 Raider coaxial helicopter made by Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Sikorsky unit recently flew with its wheels up for the first time.
The company has released video showing the prototype making its ninth and latest test flight.
The roughly three minutes of footage shows a pair of test pilots in orange jump suits flying the high-speed compound helicopter in a series of maneuvers, including retracting its landing gear for the first time.
“We got good indications in here,” a pilot radios after the landing gear folded into the body of the rotorcraft.
Check out the video below showing the S-97 in action — and with its wheels up.
Sikorsky first flew its next-generation light-attack helicopter in May 2015 at its developmental flight center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The chopper’s coaxial design features counter-rotating rotor blades and a push propeller, among other innovations, that will allow it to fly as fast as 240 knots, or 276 miles per hour — much faster and farther than today’s choppers.
The Raider was initially designed for a $16 billion U.S. Army weapons acquisition program called the Armed Aerial Scout to replace the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, one of the smallest helicopters in the fleet.
While the service put that acquisition effort on hold due to budget limitations, Sikorsky, maker of the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and other aircraft, still plans to sell the coaxial design in the U.S. and abroad. The company and its suppliers have spent tens of millions of dollars developing the technology.
Sikorsky in 2010 and 2011 flew an experimental prototype of the design called the X2 that reached speeds of up to 250 knots, or 290 miles per hour. By comparison, the Kiowa Warrior has a top speed of about 120 knots, or 140 miles per hour.
Sikorsky has also teamed with Boeing Co., which helps make the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, in proposing the SB>1 Defiant, a larger coaxial design, for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role technology demonstrator program, or JMR.