Sikorsky aims high with experimental aircraft

It was a lofty moment just over two weeks ago for Sikorsky Aircraft after a pilot took off to fly the new King Stallion helicopter cross-country for the first time — the biggest ever built for the U.S. military and the first of three major new programs nearing full production.

It is the coming maiden flight of an experimental aircraft, however, that will determine the heights Stratford-based Sikorsky can hit later this century — if Pentagon planners climb on board.

Archrival Bell Helicopter plans to begin flight tests by September of its entry in a Department of Defense competition to determine the base design parameters DOD will use for rotor-craft — ranging from heavy-lift models like today’s CH-53K King Stallion to all-purpose workhorses like the Sikorsky Black Hawk — to combat aircraft like the Boeing Apache.

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