Thursday, October 28, 2021

Black Hawk Down: Will The US Ground Its Iconic Black Hawks As Lockheed Martin, Boeing Unveil DEFIANT X?

The US Army is set to replace its iconic UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with the ‘most advanced’ DEFIANT X choppers, jointly developed by American aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

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The US Army, under its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program, was looking for an advanced helicopter. And the DEFIANT X is the result of that pursuit.

Developed by the Sikorsky unit of Lockheed Martin, the helicopter is part of the larger ‘Future Vertical Lift’ effort under the FLRAA program.

The primary goal of the program is to provide a replacement for the US Army’s powerful UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, including its highly-modified special operations variants.

The DEFIANT X could end up replacing other aircraft types across the US military, analysts say.

DEFIANT X helicopters. (Image: Lockheed Martin)

Named after the Native American warrior ‘Black Hawk’, the UH-60 is a four-blade, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, which was later acquired by Lockheed Martin.

The US military chose to select the design for the Black Hawk after carrying out a thorough evaluation in 1976.

The DEFIANT X is considered the fastest, most maneuverable, and most survivable assault helicopter ever to be fielded in the category of US choppers. According to Lockheed Martin, the DEFIANT will revolutionize the way the US Army meets threats in 2035 and beyond.

The DEFIANT X’s unmatched range and survivability are seen as a means to change the tactical plan of the US Army. The helicopter will enable crews to fly low and fast through complex terrain.

The new helicopter is reported to fly twice as far and fast as the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter. The DEFIANT X is currently undergoing testing in a digital combat environment and has shown an impressive set of results in terms of survivability.

Andy Adams, Sikorsky vice president of Future Vertical Lift, said, “We are ready to deliver unparalleled capabilities backed by proven technologies that will truly transform the Army’s mission today, with room to grow and adapt to the missions of tomorrow,

“DEFIANT X not only includes the transformational aircraft – a maneuverable, survivable, lethal weapon system – it also leverages Sikorsky’s and Boeing’s advanced manufacturing capabilities.”

The DEFIANT X is said to incorporate Sikorsky X2 Technology™ with the use of its rigid coaxial rotor system and a pusher propeller. This helps the advanced helicopter to operate at high speeds while maintaining low-speed handling qualities.

The capabilities in turn enable the soldiers to have increased maneuverability and survivability in high-threat air defense environments, which helps them to penetrate enemy defenses while reducing exposure to firing from enemies, according to Lockheed Martin.

The airframe of the DEFIANT X has been provided with improved aerodynamics and reduced thermal signature as compared to its predecessor SB-1 DEFIANT.

“DEFIANT X is purpose-built for a modernized Army that requires expanded reach, survivability and lethality,” said Steve Parker, vice-president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift.

“This weapon system will give soldiers unequaled technological advantage and connectivity over adversaries in a multi-domain battlespace,” he added.

The helicopter has been designed to revolutionize the US Army’s air assault capability with limited changes in tactics, techniques, procedures, training, and infrastructure.

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