Bell Textron Inc., part of American conglomerate Textron, has released new video footage shows the Bell 360 Invictus prototype submission as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program.
Posted on the company’s Youtube channel, the computer-generated animation showed a prototype rotorcraft designed to provide improved lethality, survivability, and extended reach for Army Aviation.
The FARA competition seeks to test and acquire a next-generation attack reconnaissance aircraft to fill a critical capability gap identified by the Army on a rapid schedule.
The Army requires an aircraft capable of operating in a complex airspace and degraded environments against peer and near-peer adversaries with an advanced integrated air defense system. The current aviation fleet does not possess a dedicated aircraft to conduct armed reconnaissance, light attack, and security with improved standoff and lethal and non-lethal capabilities from a platform sized to hide in radar clutter and for the urban canyons of mega cities.
The Army has long needed a new reconnaissance aircraft. Back in 2012, the Army reassigned a portion of its AH-64 Apache fleet to support heavy attack reconnaissance squadrons, as a replacement for the OH-58 Kiowa.
After FARA is fielded, the Army plans to replace about 50 percent of its aging AH-64 fleet.
Operating within Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft concept, the U.S. Army selected two performers executing under Other Transaction Authority for Prototype agreements for the design and testing of the Competitive Prototypes to continue into phase two of the program.
The two vendors selected are Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. (Fort Worth, Texas) and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. (Stratford, Connecticut).
As part of the selection, Bell is designing, manufacturing, and testing the Bell 360 Invictus, a prototype rotorcraft designed to provide improved lethality, survivability, and extended reach for Army Aviation.
“The selection of the Bell 360 Invictus to continue in the FARA program builds on our decades-long legacy as an innovator in reconnaissance rotorcraft supporting the maneuver force,” said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell. “Our team has applied innovative thinking with tested technology to give the Army a low-risk option to fulfill its requirements on an aggressive schedule.”
According to the company, the Bell 360 addresses the requirements with a design optimized to achieve the performance, connectivity, sustainability, and reliability for soldiers to fight and operate in multi-domain operations. The aircraft is expected to meet or exceed the Army’s requirements, using proven Bell technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls, a proven articulated rotor design, and an innovative blade design to name a few.
The Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft is the Army’s number one aviation modernization priority and is integral to effectively penetrate and dis-integrate adversaries’ Integrated Air Defense Systems.