The Army announced on Wednesday that Sikorsky’s RAIDER X (rendering above) and Bell’s 360 INVICTUS (rendering below) will go head-to-head to compete in a Phase 2 prototyping effort for the Service’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competitive Prototype (CP) Program. FARA is the Army’s foremost priority under the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) portfolio.

Bell’s 360 INVICTUS (rendering)

The Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) is to replace much of the Army’s venerable AH-64 APACHE attack helicopter fleet as well as the recently-retired OH-58 reconnaissance/scout helicopters fleet. The Army has tried and failed repeatedly in its efforts to update these mission sets over the past two decades.

The Army’s FARA competition winners surprised few observers. Stalking horses for technology in the competition and losers in the FARA downselect were: AVX Aircraft (Fort Worth, TX) partnered with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems (Waco, TX); The Boeing Company (Mesa, AZ); and Karem Aircraft (Lake Forest, CA)

Said Andy Adams, Vice President, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift:

“We are honored the Army selected our game changing X2 Technology for Phase 2 of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competitive Prototype (CP) program. Building on the 40+ year legacy Sikorsky has supporting Army front-line missions, we look forward to continuing this trusted partnership. Through our mature S-97 RAIDER technology demonstrator, we continue to optimize our FARA solution, which will provide the Army with an integrated weapon system that combines speed, range, maneuverability, survivability and operational flexibility.”

Said Mitch Snyder, President and CEO of Bell:

“The selection of the Bell 360 Invictus to continue in the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program builds on our decades-long legacy as an innovator in reconnaissance rotorcraft supporting the maneuver force.”

Sikorsky and Bell’s competing prototypes will undergo flight testing and evaluation over the next three years leading to an Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) Phase slated to start in Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24). The Army’s goal is to have FARA operational by 2030.