Air Platforms

US Army selects Bell, Sikorsky for FARA-CP programme

25 March 2020

Sikorsky’s Raider X offering is a larger version of the S-97 Raider, pictured here. Source: Sikorsky

Key Points

  • The US Army picked Bell and its 360 Invictus and Sikorsky and its Raider X to move forward with its FARA-CP effort
  • The service expects a final downselect in mid-2023

The US Army on 25 March selected Bell and Sikorsky to move forward with its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft-Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) programme.

The two companies edged out AVX Aircraft-L3 Technologies, Boeing, and Karem Aircraft. Based on the outcome, prototyping, and test effort, the US Army will potentially select one performer and design in mid-2023 to move forward into a final integration and qualification effort for production and fielding in 2028.

Contract terms were not immediately available at publication. Flight tests are expected to begin in late 2022.

Bell offered its undeveloped 360 Invictus helicopter, which features a single main rotor and a tandem cockpit fuselage. The aircraft leverages many technologies from Bell's commercial 525 platform, including a low-drag hub and high-speed rotor blades. Bell settled on its strategy, which focused on affordability and simplicity so it could meet the US Army's speed requirement while allowing a sustainable aircraft.

Sikorsky offered its coaxial rotor Raider X light tactical prototype helicopter. The company reduced its rotor part count in the Raider X by about half through its rigid rotor design as it does not have all the modes for a conventional rotor system. This was a byproduct of the rigid rotor's design that provides significantly more agility and maneuverability for rotorcraft than those found in legacy helicopters. Sikorsky also designed many of the maintenance drivers found in conventional single main rotorheads such as dampers and droop stops.

Boeing offered a thrust-compounded single-main rotor helicopter featuring a six-blade rotor system, a single engine, tandem seating, a modern cockpit with reconfigurable large area display, and autonomous capabilities. Boeing's aircraft also had a downward-pointing vertical fin and a tail rotor for anti-torque.

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