Military

Two remain in US Army's FARA small attack helicopter competition

Two remain in US Army's FARA s...
Artist's concepts of the Bell Helicopter Textron's 360 Invictus (top) and Sikorsky Aircraft's Raider X
Artist's concepts of the Bell Helicopter Textron's 360 Invictus (top) and Sikorsky Aircraft's Raider X
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Artist's concepts of the Bell Helicopter Textron's 360 Invictus (top) and Sikorsky Aircraft's Raider X
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Artist's concepts of the Bell Helicopter Textron's 360 Invictus (top) and Sikorsky Aircraft's Raider X

The US Army has reduced its Future Attack and Reconnaissance (FARA) competition to two contenders. Bell Helicopter Textron's 360 Invictus and Sikorsky Aircraft's Raider X have been given the green light to proceed to the prototype phase in search of a new "knife fighter" small assault helicopter to replace the Army's Bell OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopter.

Today's announcement is the culmination of the first phase of the FARA competition that began in April 2019 with five contenders, AVX Aircraft with L3Harris, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft.

Each of the five contenders was asked to submit an initial design and risk review assessment for a small combat helicopter for armed reconnaissance, light attack, and security missions using improved standoff and lethal and non-lethal capabilities. The aircraft is supposed to be able to hide in radar clutter near the ground as well as operate in the cramped city streets between skyscrapers in large cities.

The two successful companies will now go on to phase two under an Other Transaction Authority for Prototype agreement to build prototypes of the competing designs for future assessment and government flight tests in late 2023.

"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," says Bruce D. Jette, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. "It will enable combatant commanders with greater tactical, operational and strategic capabilities through significantly increased speed, range, endurance, survivability, and lethality."

Source: US Army

9 comments
guzmanchinky
My vote is for the Raider. It just seems like so much more efficient of a design. The dual rotors both provide lift and don't require a complex, energy robbing fan blowing air sideways, and because of the pusher it can fly much faster.
t8ntnuttn
#1 degrader of rotorcraft availability is rotor blades. Count them, 14 blades on the raider. 4 on the 360 with an enclosed tail (Fenestron). My vote goes to the 360.
Ben Wah
My bet is with Bell. They've got two great submissions in the FARA and FLRAA competition. Sikorsky still hasnt fixed the vibrations encountered during high speeds. They've only put in 60 hours in the 5 years with their tech whereas Bell is so ahead, that they've even showed autonomous flying.
Jerome Morley Larson Sr eAIA
Helicopters are already obsolete; drones with enclosed propulsion, all electric with energy generation capabilites and able to convert vertiacal flight to horizxontal without reconfiguration, almost completely silent etc will be the new norm – Just as soon as the low weight energy capture and storage curves cross; which iwlll occur lonb before these designs are in service; helecopter is MOdel T — the army should be ordering a Tesla = KISS.
Rusty Harris
The Boeing design, looks a LOT like the RAH-66 Comanche of the 90's, which makes sense since it was Boeing-Sikorsky that had that one.
Milan Markovic
Requesting this much various military equipmet and spending tax payers money for it is absolute. Standard soldier equipment cost prox. 20000 usd. So compare that information with money invested in health care workers and the whole health system now.
guzmanchinky
I have to agree with Jerome again. Electric simplicity and silence is king.
Philip Argy
Both of these designs reflect 20th century thinking. The military objectives for this aircraft (which should have been the sole criteria in the spec) can all be met with state of the art manned and unmanned all-electric quad copter devices at a fraction of the cost.
Gregg Eshelman
Bell copies (and smooths out a bit) Sikorsky's Comanche from 1996 while Sikorsky refreshes their X2 (2011) which looks like the S-69 from 1973 with a pusher prop and S-97 (2015). What came before those Sikorsky pusher prop designs was the Lockheed AH-56 from 1967. But it had a single rotor and tail rotor in addition to the pusher prop. Fast but mechanically complicated. The stacked counter-rotating main rotors also add complication. I'd want to use the NOTAR system and extend the axial blower fan shaft through the boom to drive the pusher prop, with a clutch to disengage the pusher, and feather it to reduce drag. Get both enhanced forward speed and the ability to do close ground and building work without the worry of the tail rotor hitting things.