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S-97 Raider helicopter to be displayed at AUSA expo

By Ryan Maass

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Sikorsky's S-97 Raider helicopter will be on display for the first time at the Association of the United States Army exhibition on October 12, the company announced Thursday.

The Raider is a multi-role attack helicopter under development with both vertical flight and forward speed capabilities. Sikorsky, the manufacturer, says building a craft with both characteristics historically required a compromise between one or both. Equipped with the company's X2 Technology, the Raider demonstrator aircraft unofficially broke the speed record for a helicopter in 2010, and was awarded the Robert J. Collier Trophy for the greatest aerospace achievements in aeronautics in America that same year.

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The craft is one of two prototypes to be displayed at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. The Raider, which took its maiden flight in May, is scheduled for more demonstrations aimed at achieving higher flight speeds, load factors, and altitudes. Steve Engebretson, Sikorsky Director of Advanced Military Programs, pointed out that the Raider's display will mark the first demonstration of Future Vertical Lift capabilities.

"The aircraft has exceeded our expectations in early flight testing, affirming the technology and its potential for executing the future missions of armed reconnaissance, special operations, and light attack or assault," Engebretson said in a statement. "For our customers who haven't seen the aircraft in person yet, we think it will help to give them a hands-on experience with the RAIDER aircraft, bringing them closer to envisioning the possibilities that are becoming reality."

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Sikorsky's announcement adds the Raider will be able to adapt to a variety of mission environments, and be able to carry six troops at a time and be equipped with external weapons.

In addition to promoting the new aircraft, Sikorsky is currently in the process of being acquired by Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor, for $9 billion. The deal has been cleared by U.S. anti-trust regulators, despite Pentagon concerns over excessive consolidation in the global defense industry.

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