Texas lawmaker says Army's FARA cancellation lacked 'transparency'

By Dan Schere / February 16, 2024 at 12:43 PM

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), the congressman who represents the district home to one of the companies involved in the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft competition, said this week that the Army's decision to terminate the program was done with a "lack of transparency."

The Army announced the FARA cancellation on Feb. 8, with the service saying it plans to instead prioritize funding for investments in the upgraded Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, as well as unmanned aerial reconnaissance capabilities.

Bell, one of the two finalists in the competition, is located in the district Jackson represents.

During a Feb. 15 House Armed Services Committee hearing, Jackson said Army officials came into his office about six weeks ago to update him on FARA. He added that there was no mention of terminating FARA even when he “asked directly about this possibility.”

“My concern is that this is the third failed attempt at fielding this capability. At a time with constrained budgets and record inflation, we simply can’t afford . . . to mislead our industry partners to some extent,” he said.

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante responded by noting the Army terminated FARA prior to milestone B, the start of engineering and manufacturing development.

“Really what the Army was doing was coming up to a decision of whether or not I’m actually going to go put in a significant amount of money to actually commit to develop and produce them at scale,” LaPlante said.

Jackson’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.

Sikorsky, the other competitor in the competition, is in Connecticut. Last week, that state’s congressional delegation released a similar statement expressing concerns about the Army’s decision and demanded a detailed explanation from the service.