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Bell Model 360 (Invictus)


Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Helicopter


The Bell 360 Invictus is being offered by Bell Helicopters for the United States Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft - or FARA - requirement.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 10/14/2019
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Specifications


Year: 2028
Status: In-Development
Manufacturer(s): Bell Helicopters - USA
Production: 0
Capabilities: Ground Attack; Close-Air Support (CAS); Reconnaissance (RECCE); X-Plane;
Crew: 2
Power: 2 x General Electric Aviation XT901 turboshaft engines developing 3,000 horsepower each and driving four-bladed main rotor and seven-bladed Fenestron shrouded tail rotor unit.
Speed: 207 mph (333 kph; 180 kts)
Range: 155 miles (250 km; 135 nm)
Operators: United States (possible)
Bell Helicopters has unveiled a dedicated entry into the United States Army's "Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft" (FARA) program through its Model 360 "Invictus". The design of this helicopter showcases stealth qualities not unlike the ultimately-abandoned U.S. Army's RAH-66 "Comanche" armed scout stealth helicopter of the 2000s (detailed elsewhere on this site) but brings about all-modern, digitally-driven solutions to the battlefield that include mature stealth capabilities, inherent weapons modularity, enhanced agility through digital Fly-by-Wire (FbW) controlling, and excellent straight-line performance.

The helicopter takes on a wholly sleek appearance with special attention paid to reducing external protrusions. A slight "chine" line is featured running the length of the fuselage. Bell marketing materials state an operating crew of two (gunner and pilot) with a cruising speed of 180 knots (207 mph) and a range out to 135 nautical miles (155 miles) not including 90 minutes on-station. An integrated Supplemental Power unit (SPU) aboard the aircraft will provide additional boost/dash speed capabilities as well as auxiliary power for ground running actions (such as maintenance). Handling is enhanced by the same system trialed and proven aboard two other impressive Bell projects - the Model 525 "Relentless" and V-280 "Valor" helicopters (both detailed elsewhere on this site). An integral "triplex" redundant system aids in handling of the rotorcraft reducing crew workload and adding autonomy.

The nose assembly will house the optics set as well as a chin-mounted and powered 20mm three-barreled automatic cannon capable of defeating certain classes of armor. The crew of two is seated in stepped tandem, with the weapons specialist positioned in the forward cockpit and the pilot at the rear cockpit. The stepped nature of this arrangement, a proven quality in modern attack helicopters, allows both crewmen relatively excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. Entry to each position is through dedicated, hinged doors found along port side.

Over midships of the fuselage is seated the four-bladed main rotor unit which sports a low mast keeping the hub close to the fuselage roof. The engines are embedded in the fuselage proper in a typical side-by-side arrangement with attention being given to the intake and exhaust ports of each powerplant - the result is a further reduction of radar/heat signatures. The sides of the aircraft are home to a pair of extended-length wing mainplanes which are intended to not only share lift loads but can also support and optional external hardpoint for up to four missiles each side. However, the primary weapons delivery system of this helicopter is an internal arrangement which sees a twin-missile launcher emerge from the sides of the belly - another stealth feature of this helicopter. In total, the helicopter could field up to twelve armor-defeating guided missiles or a mix ordnance load including gun/cannon pods and rocket pods.

The tail unit incorporates a traditional single-finned arrangement though the seven-bladed tail rotor unit is shrouded in a Fenestron housing, this not only reducing operating noises but also protecting the fragile fins from ground debris and enemy fire to an extent. Vertical fins are present along the tail steam, held outboard by short-span horizontal planes.

For ground-running, the helicopter will make use of a traditional "tail-dragger" undercarriage that is designed to be wholly retractable, preserving the airborne stealth qualities of the helicopter.

Power is set to come from the mandated 3,000 horsepower General Electric Aviation XT901 series turboshaft engine announced on July 18th, 2019.

The listed payload for the helicopter is 1,400lb.

The Model 360 Invictus is in direct competition with Sikorsky's "Raider-X" offering detailed elsewhere on this site.

Program Updates



July 2019 - In a July 19th, 2019 announcement, the U.S. Army mandated the GE XT901 turboshaft engine as the primary powerplant to be featured in the FARA program aircraft.






Armament



PROPOSED, STANDARD:
1 x 20mm Automatic cannon in powered "chin" turret.

PROPOSED, OPTIONAL:
12 x AGM-114 "Hellfire" Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) across inboard and outboard wingstub hardpoints.

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-tank guided missile

Variants / Models



• Model 360 "Invictus" - Base Project Designation.
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