Sikorsky unveils RAIDER X, next-gen scout helicopter prototype for US Army’s FARA competition aimed to develop a successor to the Bell OH-58 Kiowa

Sikorsky unveils RAIDER X, next-gen scout helicopter prototype for US Army’s FARA competition aimed to develop a successor to the Bell OH-58 Kiowa

By Dario Leone
Oct 13 2023
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Sikorsky RAIDER X

On Oct. 9, 2023, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, introduced RAIDER X, its concept for a fast, agile, survivable compound coaxial helicopter that will equip future aviators to address evolving peer and near-peer threats in the most difficult environments.

As the video in this post highlights, RAIDER X is specifically designed as a prototype for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype competition, part of the service’s effort to revolutionize its enduring aircraft fleet as part of what is known as Future Vertical Lift.

The last helicopter for attack reconnaissance mission

Nearly a decade ago, the US Army retired its last helicopter designed specifically for the attack reconnaissance mission – the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior. Since then, a combination of AH-64 Apache helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have filled in, performing the attack reconnaissance mission the best they could.

But near-peer threats demand next-generation aircraft specially designed to stay ahead of the fight through continuous evolution. Unlike the Kiowa Warrior, the FARA, Army Aviation’s top modernization priority, is a Division, Corps and Joint Forces-level strategic asset operating deep in the battlespace. And it’s the only reconnaissance platform that delivers deep reach providing a level of survivability never before obtained in Army Aviation.

Sikorsky RAIDER X Vs Bell 360 Invictus

Sikorsky, one of two companies vying for FARA (the other being Bell with the Bell 360 Invictus), is offering RAIDER X. Flying low and fast to stay hidden below the tree line, RAIDER X will deliver crucial intelligence and keep forces connected through a secure mesh network. Built to find, fix and finish anti-access/anti-denial (A2AD) and enemy forces, RAIDER X operates in contested environments at the front of the fight. It’s a sophisticated sensor, a central network hub and a powerful armed reconnaissance helicopter all in one.

“RAIDER X is a complete weapon system,” said Jay Macklin, Sikorsky’s director of Future Vertical Lift Business Development and a retired Army Aviator, in a Sikorsky news release. “It provides significant reach, survivability and lethality – much more than exists with today’s enduring fleet. RAIDER X will be plugged into the network as a key part of the combined arms force, enabling the ground commander to see and shape the battlefield.”

Sikorsky unveils RAIDER X, next-gen scout helicopter prototype for US Army’s FARA competition aimed to develop a successor to the Bell OH-58 Kiowa
RAIDER X prototype under completion

Army’s Modular Open Systems Approach

With an increasingly complex future threat environment and swift pace of technological change, enabling rapid upgrades and putting real-time decision making closer to the fight is critical for mission success. RAIDER X is purpose-built with the Army’s Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) to provide leap-ahead capability and enable rapid upgrades. Its adaptability is the starting point for decades of innovation.

This merger of superior physical performance with transformational digital capabilities is exactly what Lockheed Martin’s 21st Century Security strategy seeks to achieve – helping warfighters meet the challenges of tomorrow’s multi-domain missions.

X2 technology

X2 technology, the foundation of Sikorsky’s co-axial rotorcraft design, enables RAIDER X to fly faster and farther than single main rotor helicopters while carrying significant payload. The speed, range and integrated mission systems of RAIDER X make it an especially effective and improved strategic asset in the vast expanses of the Indo-Pacific region.

X2 designs also allow for inherent growth of the weapon system compared to the limitations of single-main-rotor aircraft. All of these attributes allow RAIDER X to operate at greater ranges with superior closing speed-to-target and a high degree of situational awareness.

With its low- and high-speed maneuverability, RAIDER X excels in the lower-tier air domain (LTAD) – the space between the ground and 100 feet. RAIDER X is a networked sensor package supporting the joint domain. It significantly extends the battle area’s boundaries by scouting, coordinating and providing feedback through the management and sustainment of Launched Effects (LE) networks at the tactical edge, providing greater flexibility for the joint force commander.

Photo credit: Sikorsky / Lockheed Martin

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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