The US Army has invited prototypes from aviation companies to compete in its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA). The US Army is looking at a next generation rotor aircraft designed to provide attack, reconnaissance, and intelligence to shape the tactical environment and deliver operational overmatch in highly complex multi-domain operations.
The strategy followed by Bell Textron is to offer an aircraft which offers better performance but uses available and proven low risk technologies in combination with advanced processes to deliver soldiers an affordable, agile and lethal solution to win on the modern battlefield. For example, the 360 Invictus uses the rotor system based on Bell’s 525 Relentless rotor system which has been tested and proven at speeds in excess of 200 Knots True Air Speed (KTAS). Bell aims to offer a low risk path to FARA by incorporating proven designs and the best available technologies from commercial and military programs .
Key features offered by 360 Invictus meet and at times even exceed the requirements set by FARA. The aircraft has lift-sharing wing to reduce rotor lift demand in forward flight thus enabling high-speed maneuverability. Its supplemental power unit increases performance during high power demands. The articulated main rotor has high flapping capability and is robust thus enabling high speed flights. Controls for the Bell 360 Invicus are fly-by-wire, reducing pilot effort and paving the way for autonomous flight.
The Bell 360 Invictus has a top speed in excess of 185 KTAS (333 Km/h) and a combat radius of 135 nautical miles (243 Km). It can remain on task for more than 90 minutes. The Bell 360 Invictus is capable of 4k/95F Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE). To take on the enemy, the helicopter is mounted with 20 mm canon, integrated munitions launcher with ability to integrate air-launched effects, and future weapons, as well as current inventory of munitions. It has provisions for enhanced situational awareness and sensors while it works on a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) enabled by a digital backbone provided by Collins Aerospace.
The Bell 360 Invictus follows a design-as-built manufacturing model. It has digital thread enabled tools which help enhance affordability, reliability, and training throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft.
“Bell is committed to providing the U.S. Army with the most affordable, most sustainable, least complex, and lowest risk solution among the potential FARA configurations, while meeting all requirements,” said Keith Flail, vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “360 Invictus is an exciting opportunity for us to continue our support of Army modernization. This is the next solution to ensure soldiers have the best equipment available for the multi-domain fight.”