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The building doesn't look like much—one of several nondescript hangars alongside an airstrip on the edge of the Everglades, baking in the eternal monotony of the central Florida sun.
This is the home of Sikorsky Aircraft's Area 31, where the company works on its most advanced rotorcraft projects. Like Area 51, the famously clandestine Air Force base in the Nevada desert, this airfield is home to experimental aircraft being built and tested. The mystery projects here need to be kept not only from other nations but from other aviation companies too. Millions, possibly billions, of dollars are at stake. For that reason, Sikorsky is hesitant to let journalists onto the grounds and does so only if the tour is restricted and the photography limite
This is the S-97 Raider. When it takes to the air in 2015, it will be the first production-ready prototype for a new kind of rotorcraft, the compound-coaxial helicopter. The Raider has two rotors that turn in opposite directions on a central mast, enabling it to fly up to 275 mph. That's more than 100 mph faster than a conventional helicopter, giving it twice the range.