The U.S. Army selected Bell, a Textron Inc. and Sikorsky, a business unit of Lockheed Martin, to build and test versatile, lethal and sustainable competitive prototype for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program.
According to the Army’s officials, prototypes of a are new lethal rotorcraft scheduled to first fly in 2023.
As part of the U.S. government’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) family of programs, the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (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 calls the FARA a “knife fighter” for the future battlefield. FARA’s platforms will contain a variety of payloads to degrade or destroy advanced unmanned aerial systems and provide support to troops on the ground.
The Sikorsky’s Raider X compound coaxial helicopter and Bell’s 360 Invictus single-main-rotor helicopter have been chosen by the Army to continue into the competitive prototyping phase of FARA. This means that Sikorsky and Bell will further mature the design, development and build of the new lethal rotorcraft prototype, leading up to a flight test program.
According to Vertical Magazine, a government-sponsored fly-off between the two is scheduled for no later than the fall of 2023. The Army is aiming to fill the operational gap left by retiring the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed scout helicopter. The successful FARA should fit in a 40-foot by 40-foot box and achieve cruise speeds of 180 knots in forward flight.
“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 said in a statement.