Boeing Reveals its U.S. Army FARA Design

Boeing has finally revealed its proposal for the U.S. Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype competition.

Boeing’s FARA offering, revealed on March 3, is a thrust compounded single-main rotor helicopter which boasts a six-bladed rotor system, a single-engine, tandem seating and a modular, state-of-the-art cockpit with a reconfigurable large area display and autonomous capabilities.

Boeing FARA is designed to meet the Army’s current mission needs while evolving as technologies and missions change, according to a Boeing statement revealing the proposal.

“We’re offering more than a helicopter – we’re offering an affordable and fully integrated system for the Army, the mission and the future. We’ve blended innovation, ingenuity and proven rotorcraft experience with extensive testing and advanced analysis to offer a very compelling solution,” said Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Phantom Works.

The fly-by-wire (FBW) design leverages more than 65 years of rotorcraft experience, proven advanced and additive manufacturing technology, and product commonality driving down risk and costs. The system will provide seamless capability within the Army ecosystem to include Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) and air-launched effects (ALEs).

“We listened to the Army, assessed all alternatives, and optimized our design to provide the right aircraft to meet the requirements,” said Shane Openshaw, Boeing FARA program manager. “We are offering a very reliable, sustainable and flexible aircraft with a focus on safety and the future fight.”

Boeing FARA
Boeing FARA Design.

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 now-retired Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior 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 FARA offering – Single main rotor with a pusher propeller and a conventional tail rotor; 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.

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