The ‘the next big thing in Army aviation’ may be a new Special Operations little bird with much-improved capabilities and performance.

Lockheed Martin’s S-97 Raider is a light tactical prototype helicopter capable of carrying six troops and external weapons while reaching speeds in excess of 220 knots. This new little bird has a co-axial rotor blade with a push propeller in the rear, based on the Sikorsky Collier X2 technology.

Because the X2 Technology is at the heart of RAIDER, it can carry out a variety of military missions including light assault, light attack, armed reconnaissance, close-air support, combat search and rescue, and unmanned applications.

This machine is said to be a game changer for the military, as it can reach speeds that are double that of conventional helicopters.

It is also designed for ‘high and hot’ operations and is capable of reaching altitudes of 10,000 feet in 95 degrees Fahrenheit heat.

Sikorsky updated the craft with improved hovering capabilities and an internal aux fuel tank for extended range to 34 miles for increased endurance, New Atlas reported.

And RAIDER is designed to refuel while in the air.

The helicopter boasts a low acoustic signature, agility for close air support and fly-by-wire controls.

But its weapons are what makes it the ultimate war machine.

Strapped to the sides are hellfire missiles and rockets, RAIDER also packs a .50 caliber gun with 500 rounds and a 7.62 mm gun.

The company is also working on the next generation replacement for the Blackhawk helicopter called the “Defiant” which also will feature the co-axial rotor blades and the push propeller which will greatly aid stability for the pilots.

Besides drastically reduced acoustic signature, the Defiant at 250 knots and hover at altitudes of 6,000 feet. This is more than a hundred miles an hour faster than the UH-60M Blackhawk transport, as it maxes out at 183 miles an hour.

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Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin