In a race with Sikorsky, Bell shows its scout Invictus chopper
WASHINGTON — The first prototype of the Bell 360 Invictus helicopter, developed under the US military’s FARA [Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft] program, is 90% complete. Bell raced Skorsky’s Raider X prototype in the program.
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First introduced in 2019, the Invictus is designed as a conventional helicopter with high speed and relatively low cost. The helicopter, which has a tandem seat structure like the attack helicopters widely used today, has a very innovative design. Although his design appears to have a low radar cross-sectional area, Bell states that this was not the main design priority.
There is no functional engine in the prototype. Still, Bell will soon obtain the T901 engine from General Electric and integrate it into the helicopter. As the development of the T901 engine continues, the engine schedule break will push forward testing of the Invictus prototype. A 3,000 hp T901 is expected. to reach Invictus at a speed of at least 180 knots [330 km/h].
In addition to the T901, the helicopter also has an auxiliary power unit system [APU] manufactured by Pratt & Whitney. A single-engine APU configuration is used in the aircraft.
In the images shared by Bell, the Invictus 360 prototype is shown with mock-ups of next-generation weapons. CLT launchers, AGM-114 Hellfire, and AGM-179 JAGM missiles of the XM915 20mm autocannon and a total of 2 launchers with 4 missiles that can be carried in the fuselage took their place on the helicopter.
To maintain the maximum speed of the helicopter, the launchers can be retracted into the fuselage by a mechanism. As a requirement of the FARA program, helicopters must be able to fly a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles. CLT [Common Launch Tube] is used to launch various munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles from a single tube.
As part of the FARA program, the US military aims to fill the gap in armed reconnaissance helicopters that was created after the retirement of the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The US military aims to make its choice by completing tests of the Invictus 360 and Raider X prototypes in 2023. In 2028, it aims to put the first operational-level helicopters into service.
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