High-speed scout helicopter prototype makes hard landing in South Florida

An S-97 prototype on display at McDill Air Force Base, Florida. (Commons)

The prototype for the military’s next quiet and ultra-fast helicopter made a hard landing in West Palm Beach’s Sikorsky Development Flight Center yesterday.

Designed on the idea of replacing the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and offering a fast, quiet and maneuverable insertion helicopter for special operations troops (and replace the MH-6 Little Bird), the S-97 Raider took its first flight in May of 2015. The Raider has a unique tail rotor configuration reminiscent of the AH-56 Cheyenne, an ahead-of-its-time prototype attack helicopter fielded in the late 1960s.

The Raider helicopter was hovering during a test flight when the hard landing happened, according to a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, the company that recently acquired the iconic Sikorsky firm. Two personnel were crewing the aircraft, though there were no injuries reported.

The mostly composite-based helicopter is modular by nature, allowing it to serve as a gunship (with external armaments), scout platform or small troop transport. According to WPTV, the helicopter is capable of carrying six troops and is capable of flying at 10,000 feet in 95-degree heat.

The incident is under investigation.

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