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, known as FARA, April 23.
The new helicopter will be developed for replacing of ageing OH-58 Kiowa fleet.
According to a news release put out by U.S. Army, 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 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.
The contract awards can be viewed in their entirety at the Federal Business Opportunities website: fbo.gov/.
U.S. Army Futures Command leads a continuous transformation of Army modernization in order to provide future warfighters with the concepts, capabilities and organizational structures they need to dominate a future battlefield. For more information on Army Futures Command, visit army.mil/futures.
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.
“This was a suboptimal solution,” Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen said. The Apache is an attack helicopter; it is not an armed reconnaissance helicopter. [At the time,] we did it for budget considerations.”
After FARA is fielded, the Army plans to replace about 50 percent of its aging AH-64 fleet, Rugen said.