Boeing unveils FARA design

By Jaspreet Gill / March 3, 2020 at 3:14 PM

Boeing today unveiled its design for the Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, the No. 1 priority under the service's future vertical lift effort.

The unnamed single-main rotor helicopter features a six-bladed rotor system, autonomous capabilities, a single engine, tandem seating and a modular cockpit with a reconfigurable large area display, according to a Boeing press release.

FARA will replace the Army's retired OH-58 Kiowa and half of the AH-64 Apache fleet. The service will choose two companies to build a flying prototype for FARA this month and will fly the aircraft in 2030.

The Boeing release quoted Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager of Phantom Works, saying the company "blended innovation, ingenuity and proven rotorcraft experience with extensive testing and advanced analysis to offer a very compelling solution."

Boeing's design "will provide seamless capability within the Army ecosystem to include Long-Range Precision Fires and air-launched effects." The aircraft also features an open systems architecture intended to combine multiple capabilities into a single hardware device.

Other than Boeing, the Army selected a Bell-Collins team, Sikorsky, Karem Aircraft and an AVX Aircraft-l3 Technologies team to build prototypes for FARA last April.

The Bell-Collins prototype, the 360 Invictus, was unveiled to reporters last October at Bell's headquarters in Arlington, VA. The design adopts technology from the Bell's 525 Relentless helicopter, such as a single main rotor system and a fly-by-wire control system. Collins Aerospace is providing model-based systems engineering for the prototype.

The 360 Invictus also adheres to the Army's 180-knot requirement, according to Keith Flail, Bell's vice president for advanced vertical lift systems, and includes a 40-foot rotor diameter, 20 mm gun and low-drag tandem cockpit fuselage.