Piasecki X-49 "SpeedHawk"

Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk

The Piasecki X-49, nicknamed the SpeedHawk, is an experimental helicopter currently still under development by Piasecki Aircraft as part of a U.S. Navy sponsored project. The Piasecki X-49 is classified as a compound helicopter, as in addition to its main rotor it also has a rotor which provides forward thrust.

The X-49 was developed to explore ways to improve the range, performance and load carring capabilities of the U.S. military's UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. As such, the X-49 is based on a production Black Hawk airframe. Extensive modifications have been made to the aircraft, including the addition of a third engine, an extended cabin, rear propeller and shroud, stubby wings protruding from the fuselage, and modifications to the fly-by-wire control system to account for the significant changes in the helicopter's layout.

Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk

The Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk first flew on June 29th, 2007. Since then it has logged over 80 hours of flight time without major issues. Yet despite it being a modern experimental aircraft, the idea of a similar helicopter was first tested by the U.S. military back in the 1960s, with aircraft like the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne.

The key to the Piasecki X-49's improved abilities over the standard Black Hawk lies in the rear propeller of the aircraft. This Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP) system replaces the conventional tail rotor and provides anti-torque and yaw control with the additional ability to provide forward thrust and trim control. In combination with the stubby wings, this technology unloads the rotor, allowing the helicopter to fly 50 percent faster, over twice the distance and is more maneuverable with reduced vibration and fatigue loads, improving the helicopter's reliability and reducing life cycle costs.

While the X-49's development promising and still ongoing. It's unclear when, or if, the type will enter mainstream service with the U.S. military.

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Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk
Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk
Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk

Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk
Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk
Piasecki X-49 SpeedHawk

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