STRATFORD, Conn., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has announced the start of final assembly of its prototype S-97 Raider light tactical helicopter.
The S-97 Raider, configured to the company's X2 coaxial rotors design, will outperform current military helicopters in terms of speed, maneuverability, payload and range.
Assembly follows delivery of the aircraft's composite fuselage structure -- cockpit, cabin and tailcone -- to the company by Aurora Flight Sciences, which manufactured the fuselage, which is mostly carbon fiber material.
"The first fuselage marks a significant milestone for the industry-funded Raider helicopter program," said Debra Zampano, Sikorsky S-97 Raider program director.
"Aurora has delivered an advanced composite aerostructure designed for our rapid development program. The Sikorsky team is now ready for final assembly of the prototype Raider aircraft. We look forward to showcasing the aircraft's exceptional performance and value to the U.S. military."
Sikorsky will convert the fuselage into a 36-foot, 11,000-pound gross weight S-97 Raider prototype aircraft, which will feature counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for lift and forward flight, and a pusher propeller for high-speed acceleration and deceleration.
The rigid coaxial design used in the aircraft proved its efficiency in 2010 when the X2 demonstrator, which weighed 6,000 pounds, achieved a speed of 250 knots, far more than conventional helicopters, the company said.