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Bell Model 360 (Invictus)

Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Helicopter

United States | 2024

"The FARA requirement was killed by U.S. Army authorities in February of 2024, killing the Bell Model 360 in turn."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/23/2024 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

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.

June 2020 - The Bell Model 360 team now includes Astronics Corp (systems power), Collins Aerospace (avionics), GE Aviation (engines), ITT-Enidine (in-flight stability systems), L3Harris Technologies (senors and optics), Parker Lord (main rotor/tail rotor systems), Mecaer Aviation Group (undercarriage), Moog (flight control computers), and TRU Simulation + Training (flight simulations).

August 2020 - Assembly of the first Model 360 demonstrator is slated to begin in Amarillo, Texas in October 2020. A first-flight is tentatively planned for November 2022 and testing, under Army observation, will begin in the middle of 2023 at the Redstone Arsenal (Huntsville, Alabama).

October 2020 - Parts production for the Model 360 demonstrator has begun at the Bell plant in Amarillo, Texas.

August 2021 - The prototype Model 360 has reached the 50% completion stage.

February 2024 - The U.S. Army has abruptly cancelled the FARA helicopter requirement, thus ending development of the Bell Model 360 Invictus.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Bell Model 360 Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Helicopter.
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.
207 mph
333 kph | 180 kts
Max Speed
14,764 ft
4,500 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
1,553 miles
2,500 km | 1,350 nm
Operational Range
1,000 ft/min
305 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Bell Model 360 Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Helicopter.
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Bell Model 360 (Invictus) Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Helicopter .
1 x 20mm Automatic cannon in powered "chin" turret.

12 x AGM-114 "Hellfire" Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) across inboard and outboard wingstub hardpoints.
Notable series variants as part of the Bell Model 360 (Invictus) family line.
Model 360 "Invictus" - Base Project Designation.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Bell Model 360 (Invictus). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 0 Units

Contractor(s): Bell Helicopters - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (207mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Bell Model 360 (Invictus)
Image from officially released Bell Helicopters marketing materials.
2 / 3
Image of the Bell Model 360 (Invictus)
Image from officially released Bell Helicopters marketing materials.
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Image of the Bell Model 360 (Invictus)
Image from officially released Bell Helicopters marketing materials.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Bell Model 360 (Invictus) Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Helicopter.
Going Further...
The Bell Model 360 (Invictus) Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) Helicopter appears in the following collections:
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