The U.S. Army Launches Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competition

WASHINGTON, the USA, ( – The U.S. Army has started its fourth attempt to acquire armed reconnaissance helicopter in order to fill the gap that the armed scout helicopter OH-58 Kiowa Warrior has left after its decommissioning in 2014. On 3 October, the service has released a formal request for offer to industry for the development of competitive prototypes of future attack reconnaissance aircraft (FARA), learned

The recently announced competition is part of the U.S. Army’s larger initiative for Future Vertical Lift aircraft (FVL), planned to be completed in 2030 and follows a draft solicitation, released in June that outlines the service’s intention to award four to six initial design contracts in June 2019. Then in the period of nine months, the service will choose two different helicopter prototypes, by selecting two teams responsible for the design, which would receive around $735 million each from FY20 to FY23. The two designs’ fly-off is planned in the the first quarter of 2023.

FARA is planned to be complement to the medium-lift helicopter that will win the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD) competition between Bell V-280 Valor and Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant. Both companies stated their readiness to submit proposals for FARA competition. But in comparison with the future medium-lift helicopter development, FARA is planned to move forward fast and to lead to a selection of a winner through a fly-off competition. Responsible for long-range assault helicopter and FARA programs is the U.S. Army’s FVL Cross-Functional Team, led by Brigadier General Wally Rugen.

The solicitation also states that at this point, the U.S. Army doesn’t have advanced stand-off, lethal and non-lethal capabilities, as well as the ability to hide in radar clutter, in order to be able to carry out armed reconnaissance, light attack and security in urban canyons and mega cities. One of the stated requirements is for a small enough design, which can easily operate in a defense urban environment. It is believed that the designs of Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider, Airbus X3 compound helicopters, Leonardo AW609 civil tiltrotor and Bell V-280 come close to meet FARA’s design requirements. The maximum rotor diameter is required to be 40 feet maximum and the fuselage should also not exceed 40 feet in width. The U.S. Army also demands the same 200-knot-plus speed offered by the JMR-TD designs of Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing. Also FARA should be able to launch its own and to integrate with UAS.

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