Bell Textron Forms Team Invictus to Develop Bell 360 Invictus Prototype for U.S. Army’s FARA Program

Bell Textron Inc. has announced agreements with nine premier aerospace industry leaders to form Team Invictus for producing the Bell 360 Invictus prototype submission as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program.

The members of Team Invictus include:

+ Astronics Corporation for a modular framework of airframe power generation, conversion, and distribution products
+ Collins Aerospace for the integration of a new generation of avionics hardware and software featuring cyber-hardened and digital backbone solutions to configure and integrate mission systems
+ GE Aviation for the 3,000-SHP T901 turboshaft engine and working on the aircraft Health Awareness System (HAS)
+ ITT-Enidine Inc. for the passive Liquid Inertia Vibration Eliminator (LIVE) units for all modes of operation including high speed
+ L3Harris Technologies for the WESCAM MX-15D, an advanced, stabilized multi-sensor, multi-spectral imaging and targeting system
+ Parker Lord for rotor dampers, the main rotor CF bearing, the tail rotor tension torsion strap, and the Active Vibration Control (AVC) System
+ Mecaer Aviation Group, Inc. for a fully retractable, taildragger landing gear system
+ MOOG Inc. for flight control computer (FCC) electronics, software, and flight control actuation, critical components of the Bell fly-by-wire (FBW), Flight Control System (FCS)
+ TRU Simulation + Training for a high-fidelity flight simulator that gives pilots a true sense of the aircraft flight controls

Each industry partner brings unique experience and technological expertise to provide a low-risk path for the Army’s acquisition of a lethal, affordable rotorcraft with advanced mission systems to modernize aviation for multi-domain operations (MDO).

Bell 360 Invictus
Bell 360 Invictus helicopter design offered for the U.S. Army’s FARA Competitive Prototype program. Bell Photo.

“Team Invictus is working together to show how cutting-edge technology will give soldiers the ability to confidently operate in the complex and contested battlespace of multi-domain operations,” said Chris Gehler, vice president and program director for FARA at Bell. “Future Vertical Lift is critical for the Army’s ability to win in multi-domain operations with FARA defeating defensive layers and the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) exploiting opened areas to achieve operational objectives.”

Team members are working closely together to deliver the Bell 360 Invictus prototype using a configuration that emphasizes operational availability, sustainability, and maintainability.

Team Invictus is applying digital design and manufacturing technologies, including maintenance as part of the design process, and use of emerging commercial practices to bring a holistic view of digital models, processing and analysis to reduce lifecycle maintenance and servicing requirements—and thus reducing sustainment costs.

“Each team member brings a capability that is vital to the success of the Bell 360 and we are honored to have proven, capable, and well-respected industry partners on Team Invictus,” stated Gehler. “This is an outstanding industry team, and we are working diligently to produce a FARA weapon system that is operationally effective and affordably sustainable, as well as complementary and in many ways common to the FLRAA program.”

Following the selection of the Bell 360 Invictus for the competitive prototype in March 2020, Team Invictus continues to rapidly move forward. Team Invictus’ collective expertise reduces program risk while preserving the Army’s FARA schedule leading to a first flight targeted for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

Bell 360 Invictus

In October 2019, Bell Textron Inc. announced a new rotorcraft, Bell 360 Invictus, as the company’s entrant for the U.S. Army’s FARA Competitive Prototype program.

Bell’s offering has a typical helicopter configuration with a single main rotor and a Fenestron (ducted tail rotor). Invictus’ rotor system design is based on the rotor system of Bell 525 Relentless helicopter, which has been tested and proven at speeds in excess of 200 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS). The 360 Invictus has wings which will reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight, enabling high-speed maneuverability.

The helicopter’s main engine will be a single General Electric T901 turboshaft engine, with supplemental power from a Pratt & Whitney PW207D1 turboshaft engine.

According to the company, the Bell 360 Invictus meets or exceeds all requirements as laid out under the FARA contract.

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