AVX Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA)
Light Attack / Observation / Scout Helicopter Proposal
The AVX FARA concept is of compound arrangement complete with coaxial main rotor systems as well as ducted-fan propulsors.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The United States military seeks to secure a complete family of helicopters to help replace an aging stock of attack, scout, and transport types. This includes the classic Boeing AH-64 "Apache" attack helicopter, Bell OH-58 "Kiowa" scout, and the venerable Sikorsky UH-60 "Black Hawk" transport lines. The "Future Vertical Lift" - or FVL - has been arranged to find potential successors for this massive endeavor and, from this, the program has branched to include the "Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft" (FARA) of which two current high-profile contenders exist through the Bell V-280 "Valor" tilt-rotor helicopter and the Sikorsky S-97 "Raider" compound helicopter proposals.
Another entry into the field is a new proposal from AVX Aircraft Company (of Texas) partnered with defense industry stalwart L-3 Technologies. This vehicle showcases co-axial main rotor blades (as popularized by several prominent Russian Kamov helicopter designs) and ducted-fans to enhance maneuverability (through a "compound" propulsion scheme arrangement). The conceptual artwork for this helicopter showcases a two-seat cockpit with side-by-side seating, a chin-mounted, turreted triple-barreled automatic cannon as a standard armament installation, low-mounted wingstubs to handle air-launched munitions (rockets and missiles), and high-mounted mainplanes for the required control in forward flight. The tail unit is a twin-finned unit. The coaxial main rotors sit above the fuselage and it is assumed that a twin-turboshaft powerplant arrangement would be featured (both for performance as well as survivability) as well as a wheeled, retractable undercarriage.
The AVX design was unveiled on April 15th, 2019 and is in line, in terms of capabilities, with the expiring OH-58 Kiowa series of light scout / light attack helicopters of the United States Army. This helicopter, of which some 2,200 have been produced to date with exposure seen all over the world, fulfills the observation / reconnaissance roles for the service due to its lightweight stature and inherent agility. It can be modestly armed, typically through a cannon pod, minigun, or rocket pod mounted to outboard stubs, each containing just one hardpoint. The Kiowa series has been consistently upgraded throughout its service life - which began in 1969 to fulfill a standing Army requirement for a versatile light-class rotary-wing platform.
The AVX proposal would face stiff competition from the proposed Sikorsky S-97 Raider - which has already been produced and flown in prototype form.
The United States Army will select two bids from the field of five candidates for further development. Initial Operation Capability (IOC) is tentatively scheduled for 2028 and the service could be eyeing as many as 500 units before the end.