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US Cancels Attack Reconnaisance Helicopter Program After Spending US$2 Billion

In addition to the $2 billion (RM9 billion) spent thus far, the program, now scrapped, had also sought an additional allocation of $5 billion (RM22.5 billion) for the next five years.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The United States Army has canceled its “Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft” (FARA) program, despite having already expended $2 billion (RM9 billion) on its development.

 In addition to the $2 billion (RM9 billion) spent thus far, the program, now scrapped, had also sought an additional allocation of $5 billion (RM22.5 billion) for the next five years.

According to US defense media, the cancellation of the new attack reconnaissance helicopter development program marks one of the largest program cancellations in the nation’s military history.

The decision to cancel the program was personally announced by the Army Chief of Staff, General Randy George.

General George stated, “Lessons learned from battlefields, especially in Ukraine, have fundamentally changed our perspective on aerial reconnaissance. Unmanned aerial systems, with their sensor and weapons components, have proven to be more effective, have longer ranges, and are cheaper than before.”

Invictus
The Invictus 360 helicopter developed by Bell Textron.

 

Following this evaluation, the US Army has declared its intention to increase spending on unmanned aircraft systems.

The development program for the latest reconnaissance attack helicopter, intended to replace the retired OH-58 Kiowa helicopters, was initiated in 2018, with two of the country’s leading helicopter manufacturers, Sikorsky and Bell, in fierce competition.

The OH-58 Kiowa helicopters were retired in 2017, with the more expensive AH-64 Apache helicopters taking over reconnaissance duties.

The US military had anticipated that by 2030, the latest reconnaissance attack helicopters would begin operations to replace both the AH-64 Apache and the retired OH-58 Kiowa.

The FARA helicopters, faster and more lethal, are designed to operate alongside Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs), creating a formidable combination against adversaries.

Sikorsky presented its Raider X helicopter, while Bell developed the 360 Invictus to compete for the contract for the US Army’s latest reconnaissance helicopter.

Prototypes of both helicopters, developed by Sikorsky and Bell, are expected to make their inaugural flights this year.

Helikopter

Bell Textron unveiled its “Invictus 360” attack helicopter to the public in 2019, with its first flight expected by 2024.

The “Invictus 360,” based on Bell’s “Bell 525 Relentless” designed for civilian use and capable of carrying up to 19 passengers, is designed to replace the Apache AH-64 and will feature four blades with a cruising speed exceeding 330 km/h to meet US Army requirements.

Meanwhile, Sikorsky showcased its “Raider X” attack helicopter program, which utilizes a co-axial rotor concept similar to those found in Russian attack helicopters.

The “Raider X” is designed to achieve speeds of 460 km/h, with pilot and gunner seated side by side, unlike the tandem seating in the Invictus.

Under the requirements outlined by the US Army for the FARA program, the replacement for the Apache AH-64 must achieve speeds in excess of 370 km/h. — DSA

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