Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky and Bell Textron Inc. will compete for the U.S. Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, the service announced Wednesday.
The service selected Lockheed's RAIDER X coaxial helicopter and Bell's "360 Invictus" single-rotor concept for the second phase of the program, in which the companies will design, manufacture and test their prototypes, Army officials said in a news release.
"Our focus is on delivering capability for our soldiers at the speed of relevance," said Gen. John Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, in the release. "We're doing that here -- providing opportunities for our industry partners to design, test and build capability alongside our soldiers to ensure that we win on a future battlefield."
Currently, the Army is developing FARA and the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) as part of its larger Future Vertical Lift initiative, or FVL. The FVL effort will bring in new aircraft as the service phases out its UH-60 Black Hawks and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
FARA is meant to fill a capability gap left by the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. But last year, then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers that the chosen FARA design may ultimately replace half of the service's Apache fleet, according to The Drive.
The helicopters are expected to hold their first flight demonstrations in the fall of 2022. The contract amounts were not disclosed.
"The Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft is the Army's number one aviation modernization priority and is integral to effectively penetrate and disintegrate adversaries' Integrated Air Defense Systems," said Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, in a released statement. "It will enable combatant commanders with greater tactical, operational and strategic capabilities through significantly increased speed, range, endurance, survivability and lethality."
The Raider has been flying since 2018 and has surpassed speeds of 200 knots, according to Sikorsky representatives. It is currently being scaled into the Raider X, which will be 20% larger for the FARA program.
The "360 Invictus" helicopter should be able to fly at speeds greater than 180 knots true airspeed, or more than 200 miles per hour, Bell officials said while unveiling the prototype in October.
The aircraft, loosely based on Bell's 525 Relentless rotor system, will also have a supplemental power unit that can boost the aircraft's speed in flight.
Other companies that were in the running for the program included: AVX Aircraft Co., partnered with L3Harris Technologies; Boeing Co.; and Karem Aircraft.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.