U.S. Army Issues RFI for FARA Mission Systems

The U.S. Army has issued a Request for Information (RFI) on April 13 seeking information on potential mission systems to be integrated and qualified on the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA).

The mission systems are to be first integrated and qualified during the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase with an eventual transition to production and fielding.

“The FARA Project Manager (PM) seeks information on potential mission systems to be integrated and qualified on the FARA aircraft during engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) with eventual transition to production and fielding”, said the RFI notice posted on the Federal contracting website, beta.sam.gov.

According to the RFI notice, the information provided will inform FARA risk reduction activities and near-term aircraft configuration decisions. This RFI will be open from the date of publication through 15 May 2020.

Last month, the Army has selected Bell Textron and Lockheed Martin Sikorsky to build prototypes for the FARA program. Bell is offering its 360 Invictus design for the program while Sikorsky is offering the Raider X compound coaxial helicopter design. The 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.

Bell 360 Invictus
Bell 360 Invictus helicopter design selected for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competitive Prototype program. Bell Photo.
Sikorsky Raider X
Sikorsky RAIDER X design selected for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Competitive Prototype program. Sikorsky Photo.

The RFI notice also said that the FARA and Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Project Offices are planning a combined Industry Day event in Huntsville, AL in summer 2020 as a follow-up to this RFI.

The FLRAA program was initiated by the Army in 2019 to develop a successor to the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter as part of the FVL program. Bell and Sikorsky were also selected for the FLRAA program with Bell offering the V-280 Valour tiltrotor aircraft and Sikorsky offering the SB-1 Defiant coaxial compound helicopter jointly developed with Boeing.

FARA Mission Systems Domains (from the RFI):

Sensors: Sensor systems and fused sensor systems capable of providing pilotage through a solid state staring array covering 360 degrees in degraded visual environments (DVE), day/night air and ground targeting at close, mid, and extended ranges to maximize target acquisition capabilities and support all munition types, low-light and wire/obstacle detection, radar detection, radar interferometry, weather detection, terrain avoidance, and situational awareness. Software that minimizes pilot workload through fusion of multiple sensor inputs and artificial intelligence to aid in pilot decision-making. All sensor data should be capable of internal transmission to pilot head-up displays and multiple cockpit displays and external transmission to other systems in the operational environment.

Communications: A multi-band and single band communications suite capable of providing line of sight and beyond light of sight communications in HF, VHF (AM/FM), UHF (AM/SATCOM), Link 16, advanced networking waveforms, Blue Force Tracking, workload-reduced manned/unmanned (MUM) teaming through Level of Interoperability (LOI) 5, identification/transponders, and internal communications. Aircraft Surveillance capable of Mode 5 Level 2 out/in, Mode 5 Level 2 Broadcast, Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) In/out, and interrogation of air and ground threats. The FARA PM is interested in a comprehensive suite that minimizes weight, simplifies integration for future modifications/upgrades, and is fully integrated with and conformant to the aircraft open system architecture.

Navigation: Aircraft navigation sets capable of legacy and next generation civil navigation modes in VHF Nav/ILS, TACAN, Doppler, EGI with M-code encryption, and assured precision navigation and timing (A-PNT), and Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) assisted visual-based solutions for aerial navigation in GPS denied environments and under Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). The FARA PM is also interested in solutions and software applications that support supervised autonomy / optionally-manned flight.

Survivability: Aircraft Survivability Equipment to provide spherical coverage of the host platform in order to defeat the FARA threats. Aircraft survivability systems capable of detecting RF, IR, and laser threats. Missile warning systems capable of threat launch detection. Hostile fire systems capable of ballistic fire detection. Countermeasure systems capable of protecting against RF and IR threats. Electronic Warfare (EW) to include RF jamming systems. The FARA PM is interested in a comprehensive ASE suite that minimizes weight, can be fused with aircraft navigation and pilotage systems, and fully integrated with and conformant to the aircraft open architecture.

Infrastructure / Digital Backbone: Components, technologies and standards that support and complement the Government’s MOSA objective to enable rapid development, integration, and modification of mission systems and enhanced mission systems capabilities by qualified third-party integrators without air vehicle OEM involvement.

Data Fusion: Technology that enables fusion of multiple aircraft data inputs to support creation of a synthetic operating picture to improve mission effectiveness and reduce crew workload.

Pilot Interface: Heads up / helmet mounted displays that are high definition, color-capable, and night-vision device compatible. Cognitive decision aiding tools such as voice activation technology, 3D audio, and other cueing capabilities.

Effectors: Fully-integrated 20mm cannon with minimum 180 degree, desired 360 degree of azimuthal coverage and 60 degree elevation coverage.

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