The Army Is Getting Serious About a New Scout Helicopter

David Axe

David Axe

Security,

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.

The Army Is Getting Serious About a New Scout Helicopter

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.

It also will need to be tough, reliable and affordable.

The Army in 2018 announced a plan for a fly-off between FARA candidates. The branch wants the new copter to enter service no later than 2028. By military standards, that’s soon. And the five builders are in different states of readiness for the imminent fly-off.

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