The U.S. Army has begun formal planning for a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA). In April, the Army chose five aircraft manufacturers to compete in the FARA competitive prototype program. At the end of this design phase, two teams will be selected to build flyable prototypes which will incorporate GE Aviation’s T901 engine.
The Army selected GE’s 3,000-SHP T901 for FARA, and earlier this year the T901-900 turboshaft was tapped for the Integrated Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) competition.
Bell Aircraft’s 360 Invictus, a two seat, tandem cockpit helicopter, is one of the entries competing to move on to the Army’s next phase. The 360 Invictus made its public debut in October during the United States Army (AUSA) National Conference in Washington D.C.
Bell is leveraging technology from its Bell 525 Relentless rotor system for the Invictus. According to Bell, the 525 Relentless rotor system has been tested and proven at speeds in excess of 200 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS). Bell says it will deliver a low-risk path to a FARA program of record by incorporating proven designs and the best available technologies from commercial and military programs,
The 525 Relentless is powered by another GE engine, the 2000-class shp CT7-2F1.
“We’re excited where we are at this stage of the program as we continue to move forward to get this aircraft designed, built and on the ramp for first flight in 2022,” said Keith Flail, Bell’s Vice President for Advanced Vertical Lift Systems.
Some of the key 360 Invictus features include:
- A lift-sharing wing to reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight, enabling high-speed maneuverability
- Supplemental Power Unit to increase performance during high power demands
- Robust articulated main rotor with high flapping capability enabling high speed flight
- Fly-by-wire flight control system which synthesizes technologies, reduces pilot workload and provides a path to autonomous flight
- Speeds greater than 185 KTAS
- A combat radius of 135 nautical miles with more than 90 minutes of time on station
- A 20 mm cannon, integrated munitions launcher with ability to integrate air-launched effects, and future weapons, as well as current inventory of munitions