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In the media: Will the Defiant Be the Helicopter That Finally Replaces the Black Hawk?

New pictures and tests next year offer a lot of potential, but not all experts are convinced. >> Read the full article on Popular Mechanics





Two American giants of military development, Sikorsky and Boeing, have teamed up for what they are calling a revolutionary helicopter design. The SB>1 Defiant, in the works for years, is finally getting a debut in pictures. According to a press release, the Defiant is "designed to fly at twice the speed and range of today's conventional helicopters and offers advanced agility and maneuverability."

The actual flight launch is scheduled for 2019, even as early as next month.

The companies hope that the Defiant is the culmination of a decade-long effort known as the Future Vertical Life (FVL). Started in 2008 as a response to legacy helicopters crashing in Iraq and Afghanistan, the goal was to develop an entirely new rotorcraft system, as opposed to just continually upgrading Black Hawks and Apaches.

First made public in 2017, the Defiant "has great potential," according to Swami Karunamoorthy, a professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis with a speciality in helicopter dynamics. The strengths that the Defiant brings, Karunamoorthy says, lies in that fact that it doesn't rely on one singular style of propulsion. It's "a hybrid system," he tell PopMech over email.

The hybrid system has a "coaxial rotor design for vertical flight" Karunamoorthy says, "and a pusher propeller system to increase the forward flight speed." A coaxial helicopter design features two sets of helicopter rotors and has been a concept in flight design before flight was a reality, dating back to the 1700s. Working in tandem with a propellor system "may be twice the current speed record as it claims," he says.

Swami Karunamoorthy

Swami Karunamoorthy
  • Professor of the Practice
  • Research: Helicopter Dynamics, Applied Aerodynamics, Mechanics of Solids, Composites, Kinematics, Engineering Education, Assessment methods for program continuous improvement.

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