Finally, Lockheed Martin and Boeing unveiled the Defiant X, the next-generation replacement for the aging UH-60 Black Hawk, its current all-purpose helicopter. Changes in enemy defenses require a new chopper that faster and quieter, with the strong points of the UH-60.
Defiant X Candidate for U.S. Army's FLRAA
The US Army is looking for another helicopter to replace the Black Hawk, and the Advanced helicopter is a development from its SB>1 demonstrator prototype. Competition for the US Army's Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract that will introduce a helicopter that can fly farther and faster reported News Atlas.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing call their FLRAA candidate one of the speediest, easily maneuverable, and most durable helicopters made by any manufacturer. The former Black Hawk has these qualities except the speed, which made it the oldest helicopter in service with the army and navy branches of the US military.
Winner of FLRAA Will Get the Contract
The control for the army's next-gen replacement for the UH-60 should be a medium class, multi-use helicopter with two times the range and speed of conventional designs. Defiant is different because it uses co-axial rotors that rotate opposite each other, one on the bottom and another on top, which improves overall performance.
Instead of a tail rotor, the Defiant X uses a rear propeller that lessens blades stalling and uneven lift forces in single rotor types like the UH-60. Traveling at slower speeds will be better for twin-rotor designs to handle better in slow speeds.
Next-generation army 'Black Hawk'
Despite the excellent design of the UH-60 to its latest variants, it is feeling its age. Compared to the Defiant that shares similarities to the SB>1 with improvements that can be noticed. Changes made are the sharper nose, aerodynamic airframe, and engine housing to lessen the heat. A less obvious heat signature is one way to make it less visible to infrared trackers of missiles and radar systems.
Its silhouette is a less detectable helicopter, with speed and weapon's loadout to attack and defend itself. Critical is fast speed; it can enter enemy airspace, fly closest to the ground, and drop troops and equipment at landing zones or LZs. An example is dropping special operation troops for covert actions.
Keeping Everything Top Secret
Many of the involved parties are not revealing all the technology used in the next-gen Defiant; no info is given whether the T-55 engine used on the SB>1 has been replaced with an improved turbine. Should the engine remain stock, it would have a max speed of 185 km/h, faster than conventional rotorcraft—advantages of 60% more range with 50% more performance in hot-hover maneuvers when in operation.
Builders of the Defiant had the goal of creating a helicopter that is the same size as the Black Hawk, capable of close formation flying, using the same tactics without any difficulty, techniques, training, and the same infrastructure with little or no changes how it's operated.
For now, the Defiant X is tested in a virtual digital combat environment before the US Army gives the contract to Sikorsky or Lockheed Martin and Boeing as the winner of the FLRAA contract in 2022. First units will be in service by 2035, continuing the legacy of the UH-60 Black Hawk.
Related article: US Air Force Searching for Army's Next High-Technology Rotorcraft