Airbus has announced that they will be attempting to compete in the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Competitive Prototype. The Airbus X³ (cubed) s an experimental high-speed compound helicopter. The X³ is based off the Airbus AS365 Dolphin. Airbus put two propellers to the helicopter.
The X³ has set several speed records through its use of two propellers on short wings either side of a Dauphin-based fuselage, topped by a five-bladed main rotor. The aircraft logged more than 155 flight hours over 199 flights, reaching a level flight speed of 255 knots (472 km/h) on June 7, 2013.
The Army launched the FARA competition in October 2018 when it issued a formal program solicitation, with the aim of finding a new armed scout aircraft for the service.
“This platform is the ‘knife fighter’ of future Army Aviation capabilities, a small form factor platform with maximized performance,” the solicitation stated.
Airbus was among those to submit a proposal in December 2018, with the first of four potential phases of program development scheduled to begin in June 2019.
“Yes, we are looking at the FARA demonstrator program, based on the technology we have developed . . . in terms of a high-speed platform based on the X³ in particular,” Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, told journalists during a media briefing ahead of HAI Heli-Expo.
The Army will select four to six bidders to take part in the program’s initial phase, which will give candidates nine months to develop preliminary designs and provide data supporting their bid. From there, two or more will be downselected to take part in a detailed design, build and test phase.
If selected for the second phase, the contenders will receive about $735 million to cover their aircraft’s development from 2020 to 2023, with an anticipated first flight in November 2022. The current parties involved are Airbus, Boeing, Bell, Aurora Flight Sciences, AVX Aircraft, Karem Aircraft, Leonardo Helicopters, Piasecki Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin, and Textron.