AVX Aircraft Co. partnered with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky have won awards to design a new Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) for the U.S. Army over the next year, the service announced April 23.
Only two teams will move forward, at the end of the design phase, to build flyable prototypes of the future helicopter in a head-to-head competition.
The Army laid out a handful of mandatory requirements that the vendors had to meet and also a list of desired requirements for initial designs, Col. Craig Alia, the Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team chief of staff, told a select group of reporters just ahead of the contract awards.
The service also looked at the vendors’ execution plans and evaluated timing as well as funding profile requirements. “The ones that were selected were clearly meeting the mandatory requirements and were in the acceptable risk level of the execution plan and the desired requirements," Dan Bailey, who is the FARA competitive prototype program manager, added.
AVX and L3 unveiled its design for the FARA competition at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual summit in Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this month. The design uses AVX’s compound coaxial and ducted fans technology. The companies said its single-engine design meets 100 percent of the Army’s mandatory requirements and 70 percent of its desired attributes.
The CEO of Textron, Bell’s parent company, said during a recent earnings call, that its FARA design will be based on its 525 technology rather than its tiltrotor technology. Bell has built and flown a tiltrotor prototype — the V-280 Valor — for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program.
Karem has been working to develop technology under a small contract to help build requirements for FVL aircraft focused on a medium-lift helicopter.
Sikorsky’s offering will be based off of its X2 coaxial technology seen in its S-97 Raider and the Sikorsky-Boeing developed SB-1 Defiant, which are now both flying.
“This is the culmination of years of investment in the X2 Technology Demonstrator and the S-97 RAIDER aircraft that have proven the advanced technology and shown its ability to change the future battlefield,” Tim Malia, Sikorsky’s director of Future Vertical Lift Light, told Defense News in an emailed statement shortly after the announcement.
“We continue to fly the S-97 RAIDER to inform the design for FARA, which provides significant risk reduction to the program schedule and technical objectives. We are eager to continue to support the US Army, and we are excited that the Sikorsky FARA X2 will be ready for this critical mission," he said.
Skyworks Global and Scaled Composites will offer their VertiJet gyrodyne aircraft for one of the US Army's various Future Vertical Lift (FVL) competitions, according to an executive.
John Michel, Skyworks Global executive director and retired US Air Force (USAF) brigadier general, told Jane's on 9 July that VertiJet can fulfill a variety of military missions including combat search and rescue (CSAR); ship-to-shore logistics; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); armed escort, and special operations. While the US Army has an active competition in Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft-Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) and a potential competition for Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), Michel said the team had not determined which competition, or competitions, to pursue.
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