The American aircraft manufacturer Boeing, for the first time, introduced the appearance of a new light reconnaissance and attack helicopter, developed under the FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) program for the US armed forces.
The US Army is looking for a replacement of the Bell OH-58 Kiowa Warrior – which has already been retired in 2017 – and who could carry out reconnaissance missions and assault tasks. Boeing wants to respond to this with a remarkable double tandem seat design.
According to the presentation, the Boeing’s design for the FARA competition is a single-engine helicopter with reduced effective radar reflection surface, a two-seater tandem cabin, and a pushing propeller. The helicopter will have not only a hingeless six-bladed main rotor and a conventional tail section with four rotor blades but also a propulsor at the rear.
The platform is to be armed with shooting equipment in a rotating turret, and an intra-hull chamber for guided missiles is provided. To limit the reflection surface, designers provide a retractable landing gear. The two-seater cockpit is dominated by a large, one-piece display that can be configured for specific missions and situations, while there will also be fly-by-wire control.
The drive will take place via a single General Electric T901 turboshaft selected by the US Army. This engine is designed for a power output of 3,000 hp. Air intake for the engine is only provided on the right fuselage side of the helicopter. This makes it appear less futuristic than other FARA candidates, but its qualities also lie in the systems of the aircraft, which can fly both manned and semi-autonomously.
“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.”
The FARA (Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft) competition was launched to find a new multi-purpose reconnaissance machine for the US Army by 2028. Other competitors in the FARA competition are the AVX Aircraft, Bell, Karem Aircraft, and Sikorsky Aircraft. It is planned that two competitors will receive an order to build their prototype this year. The final winner must ensure the operational availability of the new helicopter in 2028.