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Boeing, Lockheed unveil Defiant X, their final pitch in US Army’s FLRAA competition

Defiant X
Photo: Boeing

Boeing and Lockheed Martin on Monday unveiled the modified Defiant X demonstrator helicopter they intend to offer to the US Army for its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition.

Defiant X builds upon the SB>1 co-axial demonstrator, and will feature an optionally piloted flight control system that will enable more reliable and safer operations in low altitude, obstacle-rich environments or in degraded, uncertain conditions.

The helicopter prototype is taking on the same naming pattern as the smaller Raider X aircraft that is being offered by Lockheed for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program. Both FARA and FLRAA are part of the US Army’s future vertical lift (FVL) ecosystem, which is one of the service’s top six modernization efforts.

Some of the changes introduced on the Defiant X, compared to the SB>1 prototype that is currently flying, include a pointier nose cone for improved aerodynamics while a relocation and redesign of the engine exhaust is expected to contribute to reduced thermal signature.

The two companies said Defiant X was an agile, maneuverable aircraft that flies twice as far and twice as fast as the Black Hawk helicopter it is intended to replace — and sits in the same operational footprint.

Defiant X benefits from coaxial rotor technology to achieve speed and reach advantage over conventional aircraft. Rotating in opposite directions, the extra lift from each rotor’s advancing blade balances out the diminished lift from the opposite side’s retreating blade to eliminate retreating blade stall. To provide the raw forward thrust for fast flight, the back of the Defiant mounts a pusher propulsor, allowing the aircraft to fly faster than today’s conventional helicopters.

The Sikorsky-Boeing team will compete against Bell and its Valor prototype for a chance to deliver a Black Hawk successor to the army. The winning FLRAA proposal is expected to be selected by the US Army by fiscal year 2030.

Boeing rendering of the Defiant X