U.S. Army Issues RFI For FARA Mission Suite

Credit: U.S. Army

A 20 mm cannon, 360-deg. visibility in brownout conditions and a sensor-fused cockpit are among the items on the U.S. Army’s wish list for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA). 

A request for information (RFI) sent to industry on April 13 offers more details about the Army’s emerging desires for the Mission Systems module for the FARA fleet, which is scheduled to enter service by 2030. 

Until now, the focus of the Army’s acquisition efforts has been selecting two airframes for the competitive prototyping phase of the FARA program. In late March, the Army selected the Bell 360 Invictus and the Sikorsky Raider X for the prototyping stage, with a flight demonstration scheduled to kick off by late 2023.

But the Army plans to develop the mission system separately for the FARA fleet, which will replace about half of the Army’s Boeing AH-64s that assumed the armed scout role once performed by the retired Bell OH-58D. 

In an industry day scheduled this summer, the Army plans to lay out the acquisition plan and technology requirements for the FARA mission system module. 

But first the Army needs to find out what industry believes is possible. The newly posted RFI gives companies until May 15 to submit up to 25-page responses.

The Army identified eight domains for the FARA mission systems suite: sensors, communications, navigation, survivability, digital backbone, data fusion, pilot interface and effectors. 

In the latter category, the Army asked for feedback on a fully integrated 20 mm cannon. The weapon should have a minimum field of fire of 180-deg., but the Army desires 360-deg. lateral coverage, with the ability to point up or down by 60 deg.

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.