Army Experimental Test Pilots fly SB>1 Defiant

As part of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration effort and the Future Vertical Lift Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program, U.S. Army test pilots from the Redstone Test Center in Alabama conducted flights of the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant in September 2021.

The flights are part of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command preparations for the FLRAA test effort, a key element of Army modernization.

The Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration Program has demonstrated advanced rotorcraft technologies in support of FVL. In March 2021, the Army also awarded two Other Transaction Authority agreements to Sikorsky and Bell to continue their work in the second phase of a competitive demonstration and risk reduction (CD&RR) effort. CD&RR applies digital, model-based systems engineering to weapon system designs and further informs Army requirements, with a weapon system development contract award for FLRAA planned in fiscal year 2022.

RTC, a subordinate organization of ATEC, is the Army’s primary Test Center for the test and evaluation of aircraft and aviation systems. FVL is a top priority for ATEC and RTC as part of Army Modernization.

ATEC provides direct support to Army Futures Command and relevant, timely information to Army senior leaders to make future force decisions enabling Multi-Domain Operations through requisite independent developmental testing, operational tests and evaluations.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Todd Wolfe and Bob Wagner, Army XPs from RTC, trained in the Systems Integration Lab at Sikorsky’s manufacturing facility in Stratford, Connecticut, before flying the SB>1 Defiant.

ATEC XPs and flight test engineers support both the FLRAA and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programs and are dedicated to supporting this important mission in support of Army Modernization efforts.

Sikorsky and Army Experimental Test Pilots flew the SB>1 Defiant in September 2021 in support of the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration effort and the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program. (Lockheed Martin photograph)

U.S. Army experimental test pilots are graduates of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) and perform experimental and engineering flight tests. XPs are experienced officers, technical writers and highly proficient aviators. XPs bring a wealth of engineering and operational expertise and are key members of the government and industry combined test teams. XPs can provide early embedded soldier touch points to put system capabilities into mission relevant context and to ensure the warfighter gets the best capabilities possible.

After graduating flight school in 2007, CW4 Wolfe served as an Air Mission Commander and Safety Officer in the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) at Ft Campbell, KY and as a Flight Instructor at Ft Rucker, AL. He graduated from USNTPS in 2016. He completed his undergraduate work at Michigan State University and holds a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle. Wolfe has spent three years deployed to Afghanistan flying airplanes and helicopters.

Department of the Army Civilian (DAC) Wagner served in the Army from 1986 to 2013.

He is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin with an engineering degree. He flew the AH-64A/D Apache for eight years conducting attack and reconnaissance missions. He deployed to South Korea, Kuwait and Iraq and graduated from USNTPS in 2005. He became an RTC DAC in 2013 after retiring as a Chief Warrant Officer 4.

In the acquisition process of fielding an aircraft, Army XPs plan, execute and report on flight test results of the equipment to enable the Program Managers to make informed materiel decisions.

Army Experimental Test Pilots conducted similar efforts during demonstration flights of the Bell V-280 Valor.

Editor’s note: The U.S. Army is currently conducting competitive demonstration and risk reduction efforts in support of the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program. Similar flights were conducted on the Bell V-280 Valor in 2020.

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