The Sikorsky prototype for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) is near completion, the Lockheed Martin company revealed.
One of the two finalists of the FARA prototype competition, the RAIDER X is “progressing 50 percent faster through production and assembly compared to legacy programs,” the company stated.
Moreover, the company’s second FARA fuselage is ready, which will be used for “Sikorsky’s structural test program to validate the flight and ground loads capability of the airframe.”
Test findings will be used for the RAIDER X critical point flight safety program “to optimize and accelerate the design for the full weapons system.”
Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Program
The US Army selected RAIDER X and Bell’s Invictus out of five candidates to build FARA prototypes and fly them beginning in November 2022.
The FARA program was established to fill the gap left by the phased retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopter, which began in 2013. AH-64E Apache attack helicopters paired with Shadow drones have taken over the role of the OH-58D in the interim.
The RAIDER X
The RAIDER X is based on the company’s S-97 Raider aircraft X2 compound coaxial technology, providing “increased speed, combat radius and payload” and enabling “a broader range of aircraft configurations for specific mission requirements.”
Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo said, “Our transformational RAIDER X will deliver broad benefits to the Army including the lowest schedule risk and greatest technical maturity of the FARA competitors.”
“With X2 Technology, RAIDER X has the ability to grow, unlike a single-main rotor configuration. We’re looking to the future and we are committed to helping the Army deter threats and defend freedoms well into the 21st century.”
The aircraft’s modular open system avionics and mission systems offer “plug-and-play options for computing, sensors, survivability and weapons.”
Sikorsky business development director Jay Macklin added, “The FARA mission requires operational flexibility, and RAIDER X provides that operational flexibility the Army needs including speed where it matters, a large multi-functional weapons bay and unprecedented acceleration and deceleration capability.”
“RAIDER X is the most agile, lethal and survivable aircraft, designed for vertical lift dominance against evolving threats of the future.”