Posted by John McHaleMANASSAS, Va. 8 April 2011. Officials at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. selected Aurora Flight Sciences to design and build prototype airframes as part of the S-97 RAIDER program. The S-97 RAIDER program is based on Sikorsky Aircraft's development of the next-generation X2 Technologyrotary wing demonstrator aircraft, which features twin coaxial counter-rotating main rotors, and a pusher propeller.Aurora's design and manufacturing role will take place over the next several years. Applying Sikorsky structural design methodologies, Aurora engineers will design the airframe to meet weight, strength, and stiffness criteria. The airframe will be manufactured and assembled at Aurora's Columbus, Miss. facility. "We are pleased to join Sikorsky's team to develop the S-97 RAIDER prototype," says John Langford, Aurora's president and chief executive officer. "Our demonstrated success in rapid prototyping and our experience in transitioning prototype programs into production were key factors in Sikorsky's decision to select Aurora for this high priority development program." The National Aeronautic Association recently selected the Sikorsky Aircraft's X2 Demonstrator Team as the recipient of the 2010 Collier Trophy. In addition to flying at nearly twice the speed of a conventional helicopter, the S-97 RAIDER prototype aircraft will incorporate other key performance parameters critical to combat operations -- increased maneuverability, greater endurance, reduced acoustic noise signature, and the ability to operate at high altitudes.