Lockheed Martin has provided a glimpse of future combat rotorcraft with the release of new video of its Sikorsky-Boeing Future Vertical Lift concept. Under development by Lockheed subsidiary Sikorsky Helicopters and Boeing, the futuristic helicopter comes in Assault and Attack variants that build on the X2 demonstrator that set an unofficial helicopter speed record in 2010.
Like the X2, the fly-by-wire Future Vertical Lift concept is based on a contra-rotating, co-axial rotor system combined with an aft push prop – all powered by an advanced turbine plant. According to Lockheed, this allows the concept to cruise at over 250 knots (288 mph, 464 km/h) and hover efficiently even at altitudes of 6,000 ft (1,800 m) in temperatures of 92° F (33° C). And it has greater range and payload capacity than comparable helicopters, though Lockheed is a bit coy as to just how much.
In addition, the foldable, rigid composite, rotor blades produce less downwash when dropping off troops and supplies, while the pusher prop and active rudders and elevators provide improved hover control and low-speed maneuverability as well as rapid acceleration and deceleration in horizontal flight.
There's also an active vibration control to make the aircraft more comfortable and less noisy – which is what you want when you're dropping off commandos in the middle of the night. If things go pear shaped, the Future Vertical Lift can bring its weapons to bear in all flight modes. For long distance missions, it has aerial refuelling capabilities.
All of this is wrapped up in a composite fuselage that carries a crew of four and 12 fully-loaded troops or eight medivac pallets. Both the Assault and Attack variants share a large number of common systems and are designed to minimize the initial price, operating costs and maintenance over the aircraft's lifetime.
The video below provides an overview of the features of the Future Vertical Lift concept.
Source: Lockheed Martin
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