Boeing has released a new teaser of its proposal for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program revealing new details.
The company has earlier announced that it will publicly reveal the offering in March.
See the teaser below:
From the teaser, the Boeing FARA concept is equipped with a single main rotor, rather than two coaxial rotors that feature in proposals such as Sikorsky’s RAIDER X concept.
The design has a pusher propeller (like a compound helicopter), and also a conventional tail rotor. This configuration looks similar to the AH-56 Cheyenne attack helicopter developed by Lockheed for the U.S. Army’s later-canceled Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program.
The pusher propeller enables the helicopter to achieve the speed requirement of the FARA program; i.e, a top speed of 180 knots. But the design does not have wings to reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight, that some of the other FARA contenders have.
“Boeing FARA is an all-new, agile, and survivable helicopter purpose-built for the U.S. Army to achieve the range, speed, maneuverability, and next-generation performance needed by ground forces to get there, stay there, and dominate in the future fight”, according to the company.
Earlier, there were speculations that Boeing is offering a variant of the Compound AH-64 Apache for the FARA program. The Compound AH-64 Apache is a variant of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, unveiled in May 2019, with a pusher propeller and small wing.
U.S. Army’s FARA Program
The Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program was initiated by the U.S. Army in 2018 to develop a successor to the Bell OH-58 Kiowa armed scout helicopter as part of the larger Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.
The mandatory requirements of the program included the integration of government-furnished equipment: engine, gun and rocket launcher, a minimum speed, specific target gross weight, a maximum 40-foot diameter rotor, and an affordability goal.
Design contracts for FARA candidates were awarded to five manufacturers, out of eight proposals, in April 2019. They are AVX Aircraft (in partnership with L3Harris Technologies), Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Karem Aircraft, and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Aircraft.
The contenders are:
• AVX /L3 Compound Coaxial Helicopter (CCH) design – Compound coaxial helicopter with two ducted fans providing forward and reverse thrust, and wings to provide lift in forward flight; side-by-side cockpit.
• Bell 360 Invictus– Conventional design with a single main rotor and a Fenestron (ducted tail rotor), with added wings to reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight; tandem-seat cockpit.
• Boeing’s unnamed FARA offering – Single main rotor with a pusher propeller and a conventional tail rotor; likely a tandem-seat cockpit.
• Karem AR40 – Active-rotor, winged, compound helicopter design with a three-blade rigid main rotor and a swiveling tail rotor; side-by-side cockpit.
• Sikorsky RAIDER X – Compound coaxial helicopter with coaxial counter-rotating main rotors and a pusher propeller; side-by-side cockpit.
Two of the manufacturers will be selected to proceed with their designs in 2020, and prototypes are scheduled to first fly in 2023. The production design is scheduled for selection in 2028, but may occur sooner.