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US Army selects Bell and Sikorsky to continue in FARA competition


Among the five competitors  for the US Army's FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) program, the US Army finally selected Bell and Sikorsky for the next phase of the program, where each company is to complete a detailed design, build and test helicopters. Prototypes are scheduled to first fly in 2023.


US Army selects Bell and Sikorsky to continue in FARA competition 01  Prototypes are scheduled to first fly in 2023 (Picture source: Sikorsky, Bell )


Bell 360 Invictus

As part of the U.S. government's Future Vertical Lift(FVL) family of programs, the FARA competition seeks to test and acquire a next-generation attack reconnaissance aircraft to fill a critical capability gap identified by the Army on a rapid schedule.

The Bell 360 addresses the requirements with a design optimized to achieve the performance, connectivity, sustainability, and reliability for soldiers to fight and operate in multi-domain operations. The aircraft is expected to meet or exceed the Army's requirements, using proven Bell technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls, a proven articulated rotor design, and an innovative blade design to name a few.

Additionally, Bell is partnered with industry leader Collins Aerospace to integrate a new generation of avionics hardware and software featuring cyber-hardened and digital backbone solutions to provide MOSA compliance in accordance with US Army FARA objectives.

To ensure the team stays on schedule and on budget, Bell is using a digital design-as-built process. The team is able to connect and collaborate in a real-time digital environment to ensure alignment among all trades to facilitate smoother manufacturing, improve sustainability characteristics, and mitigate schedule risks. This process has been used and refined on Bell commercial projects, as well as during the recent US Army Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program that produced the Bell V-280 Valor.

"The Bell 360 Invictus will help the Army achieve and sustain overmatch against competitors with its new attack and reconnaissance capabilities," said Keith Flail, vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. "Our aircraft builds on Bell's legacy of providing ultra-reliable scout rotorcraft by keeping our aircraft affordable with an emphasis on simplifying processes to achieve a sustainable and maintainable aircraft for the warfighters."

Initiated following contract award in 2019, the Bell 360 program is producing an advanced, scout aircraft to fulfill requirements set out by the Army FARA program. The Bell 360 design was revealed last October.

The next generation design highlights Bell's intent to deliver exceptional performance using proven technologies to preserve schedule and control cost.


US Army selects Bell and Sikorsky to continue in FARA competition 02 Bell 360 Invictus (Picture source: Bell )


Sikorsky Raider X

Raider X is specifically designed for vertical lift dominance against evolving peer and near-peer threats in a joint all domain environment.

The US Army selected Raider X to move to the second phase of the FARA competitive prototype program as part of future vertical lift. This means that Sikorsky will further mature the design, development and build of the Raider X prototype, leading up to a flight test program.

Raider  X offers:

- REACH in the forms of speed, combat radius, endurance and payload

- SURVIVABILITY through a revolutionary, game-changing leap in holistic protection, maneuverability and agility including a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) that quickly adapts to new technology and threat capabilities.

- LETHALITY that includes a combination of speed, payload and maneuverability to employ an array of sensor and weapon systems coupled with MOSA to rapidly field and employ new capabilities.

- SUSTAINMENT that is designed into the aircraft using a digital thread to decrease aircraft operating costs by utilizing new technologies to shift from routine maintenance and inspections to self-monitoring and condition-based maintenance, which will increase aircraft availability, reduce sustainment footprint forward and enable flexible maintenance operating periods thread

- GROWTH AND MISSION FLEXIBILITY that is focused on the future and ever evolving threat capabilities, X2 compound coaxial technology provides unmatched potential and growth margin for increased speed, combat radius and payload. This potential and growth margin further enables operational mission flexibility which includes a broader range of aircraft configurations and loadouts to accommodate specific mission requirements.


US Army selects Bell and Sikorsky to continue in FARA competition 03 Sikorsky Raider X (Picture source: Sikorsky)