Helicopters have seen some rampant increases in technology over the years - with the top models reaching impressive speeds, but how fast can they actually fly?
The fastest helicopters can fly 190mph to 351mph. The current top helicopter models for speed are:
- Bell Boeing V22 Osprey
- Sikorsky X2
- Eurocopter X3
- Westland Lynx
- Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
- Boeing CH-47F Chinook
- AW-159 Lynx Wildcat
After extensively researching the top helicopter models for speed and performance, I have been able to gather enough information to determine how fast they can fly. My research has indicated that the majority of the world’s fastest helicopters are experimental models or have been designed for military use.
How Fast Can Helicopters Fly?
The original helicopter prototype surfaced in 1907 - with a primitive yet ingenious design that has heavily influenced the aviation industry as we know it. Although technology has improved dramatically since then, the design of helicopters has stayed true to the original concept.
As the military began to create a driving demand for helicopters, leading manufacturers strived to improve the technology of these aircraft to push them to their limits. That is why you can find helicopters that can reach impressive speeds of 190 mph to 351 mph. With that said, these are speed figures that only some of the world’s fastest helicopters can reach.
The average helicopter will travel at speeds that are quite a bit slower than this - with 160mph being a standard estimate. The majority of helicopters that can achieve speeds of 190mph to 351mph are either experimental models or are used for military operations and are not available to the general public unless they are customized to have all weapons and military tech removed.
The World’s Fastest Helicopter Models
Helicopter manufacturing has not halted over the years and aerospace engineers continue to design new and improved rotorcraft. This has resulted in various types of helicopters being released for different purposes - including military operations and experimental flying.
Speed is an important characteristic that aerospace engineers prioritize when designing helicopters, which is why these aircraft have continuously gotten faster. This is a list of the world’s fastest helicopters.
Bell Boeing V22 Osprey (351mph/305kt)
Despite this being a hybrid aircraft that can be used as either a plane or a helicopter, the Bell Boeing V22 Osprey rightfully deserves its place at the top of this list as the world’s fastest helicopter.
This rotorcraft can reach a mind-blowing top speed of 351mph or 305kt, which essentially blows the rest of the competition out of the water. The V22 Osprey is designed as a military aircraft for multi-mission use - with the unique capability of transforming from a helicopter to a plane in just 12 seconds.
The United States military pushed for this kind of helicopter design given the landing limitations of planes. In order to optimize long-distance transport with vertical landing capabilities, the Bell Boeing V22 Osprey was created.
Sikorsky X2 (299mph/260kt)
The Sikorsky X2 features a traditional helicopter design, but it can achieve speeds that surpass any standard rotorcraft. This is an experimental high-speed helicopter with coaxial rotors that can get up to an incredibly fast speed of 299 mph or 260 kt.
The X2 was built by Sikorsky Aircraft and it was never mass-produced and sold on the market. Instead, the intention behind the Sikorsky X2 was to release a record-breaking helicopter that would shatter the top speed of competitive rotorcraft, which the X2 did with flying colors. A unique design characteristic of the X2 is that it is powered by two rotors and requires two people for it to be operational - a pilot and a quieter.
Unlike the V2 Osprey, the Sikorsky X2 has an original helicopter design, which may actually entitle it to be number one on this list, depending on who you ask. Unfortunately, only 1 X2 was ever made, and the copter was retired not long after its first flight.
Eurocopter X3 (293mph/255kt)
Around the same time that the Sikorsky X2 had its record-breaking flight, the Eurocopter X3 was being designed by Airbus Helicopters. Much like the X2, the Eurocopter X3 aimed to break helicopter speed records.
This is an experimental high-speed helicopter that was solely designed to demonstrate the capabilities of modern hybrid copters. In 2013, the Eurocopter X3 successfully set an unofficial speed record when it reached 293 mph or 255 kt in level flight.
The Eurocopter was designed with 2 Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01/9a turboshaft engines, which have an astonishing amount of power. Much like the Sikorsky X2, the Eurocopter X3 was shortly retired after its flight - with only 1 model ever being produced.
Westland Lynx (249mph/216kt)
The Westland Lynx is a classic military helicopter that has been primarily used by the British Army. This helicopter had its first flight in 1971, but new and improved variations of the Westland Lynx have been released since then.
Although the Westland Lynx was originally designed for Navy use, it caught the attention of other military branches, which is when it became adopted by army forces in the UK, as well as by other European nations such as France.
Unlike some of the other helicopters that I have covered, the Westland Lynx is not an experimental helicopter and its dynamic flying capabilities resulted in it being mass-produced with roughly 450 models made as of 2009. Naturally, one of the key characteristics of this rotorcraft is speed, which is why it can reach an impressive 249 mph or 216kt.
The speed capabilities of the Westland Lynx are particularly impressive considering how long this helicopter has been around. In addition to speed, the Westland Lynx is praised for its aerobatic capabilities. This rotorcraft’s agility and design enable it to perform loops, as well as rolls - making it one of the fastest and most dynamic helicopters ever built.
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk (222mph/193kt)
The Sikorsky Aircraft company has earned more than one spot on this list. In addition to their impressive X2 prototype, Sikorsky is famous for releasing one of the most legendary helicopters ever made - the UH-60 Black Hawk.
The original design of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk was submitted to United States Army in 1972 as a prototype in a competition. Given the specs and performance capabilities of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, the army selected this helicopter over the competition, which resulted in over 4,000 being produced to date.
The massive success of the infamous Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk was attributed partly to the helicopter’s top speed of 222 mph or 193 kt. After its introduction in 1979, the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk’s popularity has not ceased, which is why it is still actively used.
This utility military helicopter is powered by 2 General Electric t700 turboshaft engines and it features a 4-blade design. With the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk having so much success in the U.S., many nations around the globe ended up adopting this helicopter as part of their military arsenal.
Boeing CH-47F Chinook (196mph/170kt)
The CH-47F Chinook is a classic tandem-rotor helicopter from Vertol that has been primarily used for military troop transfer and artillery drop-offs. This is a heavy-lift helicopter that is powered by two Honeywell T55-FA-714A engines.
The Boeing CH-47F Chinook had its first flight in 1961 and it was shortly introduced afterward in 1962. Despite this helicopter seeing many years of service, the Boeing CH-47F Chinook is still active to this day.
In addition to its versatile military capabilities, this tandem-rotor helicopter is widely recognized as one of the fastest rotorcraft ever built. When flying at its top speed, the Boeing CH-47F Chinook can reach an impressive 196 mph or 170 kt.
This factor alone was one of the reasons why this helicopter caught the attention of the U.S. military, which eventually resulted in countries around the globe ordering the Boeing CH-47F Chinook.
AW-159 Lynx Wildcat (193mph/168kt)
The AW-159 Lynx Wildcat, formerly known as the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat is a British military helicopter that is relatively new on the scene compared to some of the other models that I covered.
This helicopter was designed to replace a previous model from the same manufacturer used by the British military - with improved specs and performance capabilities across the board. The AW-159 Lynx Wildcat is praised for being an incredibly fast helicopter that is able to reach speeds of 193 mph or 168 kt.
Despite the massive praise that the AW-159 Lynx Wildcat has received, it is actually a bit slower than the previous version that was released. The manufacturer took a step back on speed and instead prioritized adding other features to the aircraft. Nonetheless, even with the downgrade, the AW-159 Lynx Wildcat still holds one of the fastest speeds that a helicopter has ever achieved.
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood