The U.S. Army on April 23, 2019 awarded contracts to five companies to develop prototypes for the ground-combat branch’s new scout helicopter.
AVX, Bell, Boeing, Karem and Lockheed Martin each snagged a development contract for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program. FARA aims to provide the Army a new scout helicopter finally to replace the old Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scouts the service retired in 2017.
The FARA rotorcraft also will free up hundreds of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters that the Army has pressed into the scout role despite the Apache being too big, slow and heavy for the role.
To adequately replace both the OH-58D and the AH-64, the new copter will need to carry sophisticated sensors and a heavy load of long-range weapons. It will need to be able to fly for hours at a time at speeds fast enough to evade enemy defenses, all in hot-and-high conditions that can sap a rotorcraft’s lifting power.