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Airbus Helicopters X3 (X Cubed)

France (2010)
Picture of Airbus Helicopters X3 (X Cubed) Experimental Compound Helicopter

The compound Eurocopter X3 helicopter development combines a traditional mast-mounted main rotor with side-mounted propeller units.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus Helicopters X3 (X Cubed) Experimental Compound Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 5/8/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Eurocopter X3 (or simply as the "X-Cubed") is an developmental rotary-wing platform intended to validate a helicopter design at speeds exceeding 250 miles per hour (typical operating speeds for modern helicopters range from 150 to 160 miles per hour). The design is based on a highly-modified Eurocopter EC155 model yet differentiated by the addition of side-mounted propeller units and highly noticeable fuselage protrusions not common to the EC155 design. As of this writing, the X3 is currently undergoing flight testing with the prospect of the design being used in a future commercial- or perhaps military-minded rotary-wing platform (weapons placement could prove problematic in the X3's current engine arrangement). If successful, the X3 will usher in something of a new age considering high-speed rotary-wing flight. First flight of the Eurocopter X3 was completed on September 6th, 2010. On May 12th, 2011, the X3 completed a recorded flight with speeds in excess of 267 miles per hour. Naturally, the X3 is being billed as the "World's Fastest Helicopter" though there are other similar competing helicopter designs in the works elsewhere (the Sikorsky X2 demonstrator is one such competitor). All told, the X3 has proven a sound concept with excellent agility and impressive speeds during its presentation flights meaning that its application in the real world could be rather limitless as helicopters go.

The overall design of the X3 features pleasing and well-contoured lines from nose to tail. As in the EC155, the X3 sports a finely sharpened nose assembly with the two-person cockpit just aft. A passenger compartment is located directly behind the cockpit seats. The main powerplant is fitted within the engine compartment mounted atop the fuselage. The twin engine arrangement powers the main rotor installation as well as a pair of propeller-based systems and there is no conventional tail rotor as seen on contemporary helicopters (the portside propeller spins at less RPMs than the starboard mounting, countering the inherent torque effect from the main rotor). As such, energy is not wasted along a long shaft to the tail rotor but instead added to the forward speed output. The empennage is smooth and rounded to the extreme aft end to which a pair of horizontal fins are affixed. The undercarriage is completely retractable.

Power for the X3 comes from the 2 x Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 series turboshaft engines each delivering 2,270 shaft horsepower. These powerplants rotate a five-bladed main rotor atop the fuselage as well as a pair of five-bladed tractor propeller systems fitted to wingstubs along the fuselage sides. Cruise speed is expected to be in the vicinity of 252 miles per hour. A service ceiling of 12,500 feet is estimated.

Only a single prototype form of the X3 has been completed. Some sources state that EADS intends the X3 to be a true production-ready helicopter and not a technology demonstrator or "proof of concept" design. Only time will tell for sure.

In 2014, the sole X-3 example was given to the Musee de l'Air for display.

Any available statistics for the Airbus Helicopters X3 (X Cubed) Experimental Compound Helicopter are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (253mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: France
Year: 2010
Type: Experimental Compound Helicopter
Manufacturer(s): Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) - France
Production: 1
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
France (retired)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Eurocopter X3 (X Cubed) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
41.34 ft


Meters
12.6 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
25,276 lb


Kilograms
11,465 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 turboshaft engines delivering 2,270 shaft horsepower each and driving a five-bladed main rotor and 2 x five-bladed side-mounted propellers.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
253 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
407 kph


Knots
220 kts


Performance
CEILING


Feet
12,500 ft


Meters
3,810 m


Miles
2.37 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
5,500 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
1,676 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• X3 - Base Series Designation; no longer inactive development.