Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider Could Be A Revolutionary Light Helicopter

The U.S. Army is the biggest operator of military helicopters in the world. However, all of its combat rotorcraft were developed during the Cold War, and despite upgrades are beginning to show their age. In fact, the Army’s main reconnaissance (“scout”) helicopter, the Kiowa Warrior, grew so decrepit after 16 years of fighting in Southwest Asia that they were retired despite the absence of a dedicated successor.

Apache, the Army’s preeminent tank-killer, will do double duty as an armed recon helicopter for the time being, but Army leaders admit lack of a next-generation recon helicopter is the gap in aviation capabilities that most worries them. Armed recon plays a central role in Army plans for securing battlefield intelligence and attacking forward targets, but in today’s lethal warfighting environment the mission requires an unusually agile and survivable airframe.


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