Friday, June 21, 2024

Kiowa Warrior on steroids: U.S. Army to receive new attack recon aircraft

The U.S. Army awarded five Other Transaction Authority for Prototype Agreements for the aircraft design, build, and test of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, commonly known as FARA.

The new aircraft will be developed for replacing of ageing OH-58 Kiowa fleet.

Newest combat platform will contain a variety of payloads to degrade or destroy advanced unmanned aerial systems and provide support to troops on the ground. The FARA shall be capable of achieving and sustaining overmatch against potential competitors and enduring asymmetric threats by closing or mitigating gaps in Army aviation attack and reconnaissance. The FARA expected will be a smaller variant than the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft that is also in development.


The Army currently lacks the ability to conduct armed reconnaissance, light attack, and security with an improved stand-off and lethal and non-lethal capabilities with a platform sized to hide in radar clutter and for the urban canyons of megacities. To close this gap, the Army envisions an optionally manned, next-generation rotorcraft with attributes of reduced cognitive workload, increased operational tempo (OPTEMPO) through ultra-reliable designs and extended maintenance free periods, and advanced teaming and autonomous capabilities.

Teamed with unmanned systems and various air launched effects, this platform will be the centerpiece of the integrated air defense system (IADS) breeching team to provide freedom of maneuver in a multi-domain battle. This platform is the “knife fighter” of future Army Aviation capabilities, a small form factor platform with maximized performance.

Requirements for the FARA, include enough AI to fly unmanned at least part of the time, a secure communications network to control specialized drones, an open architecture, speed up to 235 miles per hour and the ability to reach targets 155 miles away. The Army plans to conduct flight testing on the prototypes in 2023 and make a procurement decision in 2024, then field this new capability to a combat unit soon afterward.

According to a news release put out by the U.S. Army Futures Command, the five industry partners are AVX Aircraft Co. (Fort Worth Texas) partnered with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems L.P. (Waco, Texas); Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. (Fort Worth, Texas); The Boeing Company (Mesa, Arizona); Karem Aircraft, Inc. (Lake Forest, California) and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, Connecticut).

Announced nearly two months ahead of schedule, Joseph Giunta, executive director for U.S. Army Contracting Command-Redstone, credits the Other Transaction Authority (OTA) set forth by Congress. “This is not procurement as usual. The OTA capability gives us flexibility, allowing us to be more responsive to the timelines in order to meet specific requirements,” said Giunta.

Gen. John M. Murray, U.S. Army Futures Command Commanding General, attributes the success to the combined efforts of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, Army Contracting Command, and the Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team.

“In just over a one-year period, the Army moved from the FARA ‘kick-off’ to now awarding prototype contracts – a process that traditionally takes three to five years to achieve,” Murray said. “While much work remains to be done, today’s announcement certainly highlights how the Army is already streamlining the modernization process to provide our Soldiers, and our future Soldiers, the equipment they need when they need it to win on future battlefields,” he said.

A number of the projects have already been unveiled by developers, while others have not yet decided on a public application.

Sikorsky S-97 Raider

Sikorsky incorporates its latest advances in fly-by-wire flight controls, vehicle management systems and systems integration for the U.S. Army’s FARA competition. It is known that the company is preparing a version of the aircraft built on the basis of their y S-97 Raider helicopter.

Based on Sikorsky’s Collier Award-winning X2 Technology, Raider incorporates the latest advances. These technologies enable the aircraft to operate at high speeds while maintaining the low-speed handling qualities and maneuverability of conventional single main rotor helicopters. Raider can reach speeds of more than 220 knots, nearly double the speed of a conventional helicopter. Designed for “high and hot” operations, the helicopter is capable of flying at 10,000 feet in 95℉ heat.

The X2 Technology at the heart of the Raider helicopter is scalable to a variety of military missions including light assault, light attack, armed reconnaissance, close-air support, combat search and rescue, and unmanned applications.

Photo by L3 Technologies

On 15 April, L3 Technologies-led team also unveiled images of innovative attack reconnaissance helicopter design.

L3 Technologies and AVX Aircraft team developing a new version of a high-speed helicopter for competing for Phase 1 of the U.S. Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA)-Competitive Prototype (CP) program competition.

According to a statement released L3, the innovative design solution will exceed the reconnaissance and light-attack mission of FARA with a high-performing and survivable platform.

AVX-L3 CCH will meet 100 percent of mandatory requirements and exceed 70 percent of them. The CCH design, combined with rigorous engineering and production processes and certifications, will deliver a safe, performance-driven, affordable aircraft capable of operating in highly contested airspace and degraded environments for extended periods.

Photo by Karem Aircraft
Photo by Karem Aircraft

Not so famous aerospace manufacturer company Karem Aircraft offers high-efficiency tiltrotor aircraft.

Karem Aircraft was founded by Abe Karem in 2004. Karem Aircraft is a participant in the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program. Other recent Karem contributions include work on DARPA’s VTOL X-Plane (VXP) program and DoD’s Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) and Joint Future Theater Lift (JFTL) programs. Several privately funded initiatives are also underway at Karem, including development of the AeroTrain and AeroCommuter Optimum Speed Tiltrotors intended for commercial passenger transportation.

Photo by Bell

In response to previous companies, the legendary Bell decided to offer a helicopter of familiar design, created on the basis of their commercial Bell-525. Bell arguing it would have higher reliability and lower cost than a high-speed aircraft like Sikorsky’s propeller-helicopter hybrid. They say they can meet the 205 knot (235 mph) speed requirement for the scout without resorting to more complex technologies that cost more to build and maintain.

According to Aviation International News Online, the Bell FARA design will be a smaller version of the Bell 525 Relentless, which is still in flight tests and awaiting final FAA certification. The 525 was being marketed as a 16-passenger commercial passenger helicopter.

As for Boeing, it is still not clear with which aircraft they entered the competition.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more



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