Sikorsky to build next-generation VTOL aircraft demonstrator

By Dan Schere / February 27, 2024 at 4:32 PM

Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky will build a tiltwing, hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) demonstrator, the company announced today.

The initiative seeks to achieve “greater than a 500-nautical-mile range at high speed, fewer mechanical systems to reduce complexity and lower maintenance costs,” according to Sikorsky.

Sikorsky Innovations and GE Aerospace are also working on a hybrid-electric power systems testbed with a 600-kilowatt electric motor. The testbed will be used to evaluate the demonstrator, which will weigh a maximum of 9,000 pounds and have a 1.2-megawatt class turbogenerator.

This will be the first in a series of next-generation VTOL aircraft, which will feature “varying degrees of electrification and an advanced autonomy system for optionally piloted flight,” according to Sikorsky.

Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo said in a statement Tuesday that “autonomy and electrification will bring transformational change to flight safety and operational efficiency of large VTOL aircraft.”

“Our HEX demonstrator program will provide valuable insights as we look to a future family of aircraft built to the scale and preferred configurations relevant to commercial and military customers,” he said.

Tuesday’s announcement comes a few weeks after the Army canceled the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program as part of an aviation portfolio restructure, in which Sikorsky had been one of two finalists with competing bids. Sikorsky, which manufactures the Black Hawk, will also see production end for the UH-60V version of that aircraft, the Army announced Feb. 8 as part of the restructure. However, the Army also plans to invest in the newer UH-60M model of the aircraft.