A little while ago, an Osprey employee was telling me about an uncle of theirs. It seemed the uncle had been working on a project for a major engineering firm over the last five years, that he'd been unable to tell anybody about.
But now the cat is out of the bag, and it turns out that this top-secret project was the creation of a brand new, high-speed scout/attack helicopter, the Sikorsky S-79 Raider. Earlier in the month, Sikorsky gave a press release indicating the completion of two prototypes, signalling the start of activities in the program’s test flight phase.
In a press release unveiling it, Sikorsky billed the machine as thus:
"Based on Sikorsky’s rigid X2™ rotor coaxial design, the S-97 RAIDER helicopter features next-generation technologies in a multi-mission configuration (armed aerial scout or light assault), capable of carrying six troops and external weapons. The coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and pusher propeller provide cruise speeds up to 220 knots (253 mph), more than double the speed of conventional helicopters. Sikorsky will offer the RAIDER™ aircraft as a replacement for the U.S. Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter fleet based on the Army’s future operational and financial priorities, and for the special operations platform."
Take a look at the official Raider website for more information, and for some exceptionally cool images of this sleek helicopter.
As for the Osprey uncle, let it never be said that we don't have good connections to the military world, or that our fingers are not on the pulse. Now it just needs a few years of operational flying and we might get to do a book on it!