The U.S. Army is experimenting with a new weapons launcher able to shoot missiles, rockets, and small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to equip its Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA).
The U.S. Army Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team has shared a picture on social media of a FARA surrogate demonstrating prototype Modular Effects Launcher during test flight at Project Convergence 21 exercise.
The Modular Effects Launcher, or MEL, is an open systems launcher designed to use multi-mission ammunition and missiles, including multi-purpose mini-drones called air-launched effects (ALE). The MEL also should be able to launch Griffin lightweight, precision-guided munition developed by Raytheon.
The Army is planning to procure FARA to fill a critical capability gap currently being filled by AH-64E Apache attack helicopters teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
According to the U.S. Army, the FARA weapon system is designed to restore attack reconnaissance dominance with sweeping improvements in lethality, agility, reach, survivability, and sustainability to provide capability and flexibility to future commanders.
FARA will mitigate enemy long-range capabilities through increased reach allowing the commander to fight and operate from relative sanctuary while delivering lethal effects outside enemy sensor/weapons range. FARA must operate in complex and dense urban, mountainous, desert, jungle and maritime environments.