Boeing lifts the veil on its FARA helicopter


Until the last minute, Boeing remained secretive about its proposal for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition of the United States Army. It will be competing against Sikorsky, Karem, Bell, AVX Aircraft and L3 Technologies. 

The aircraft, only described as “Boeing FARA”, appears to be a relatively conventional helicopter. The aircraft does not feature an airfoil, unlike the Bell Invictus and the Sikorsky S-97 Raider. Its most prominent feature is a propeller at the rear that should help to reach the top speed of 333 km/h (180 knots) required by the U.S. Army.

“The thrust compounded single-main rotor helicopter 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,” states the Seattle-based manufacturer. 

With the front turret and the internal weapons bays, it is hard not to think about the canceled Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche that was proposed in the Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) program, 32 years ago.

The U.S. Army is expected to decide which two prototypes it would fund by the end of March 2020. The two finalists would be put to a test in 2023. Among the requirements, the future armed reconnaissance helicopter should not exceed 12 meters (40 feet) for both rotor diameter and fuselage width. The FARA program aims at finding a successor to the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, retired in 2017.

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