Military

AVX, L3 Submit Team Proposal For Future Army ‘Knife Fighter’ Helicopter

By Dan Parsons | December 21, 2018
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AVX Aircraft Company and L3 have submitted a joint proposal for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competitive prototype program that seeks a next-generation armed scout helicopter to replace the already retired OH-58D Kiowa Warrior.

The AVX/L3 pitch combines AVX Aircraft’s coaxial rotor design and propulsion system with L3’s systems engineering, weapons, sensor and communications systems integration and full-rate production capabilities, the companies said in a statement.

Illustration shows patented AVX design for UTILITY Mode JMR. With clean aerodynamics and highest performance value for lowest cost, the AVX answers the Army's question about the FVL (Future of Vertical Lift).

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“The L3/AVX FARA proposal demonstrates our commitment to provide innovative solutions for the Army’s modernization priorities,” said L3 Chief Executive Christopher Kubasik. “Our significant engineering, manufacturing, integration and test capabilities enable us to deliver a cost-efficient and highly capable FARA platform. AVX operates with the same agile and innovative culture as L3, which allows us to successfully collaborate in advancing this revolutionary design into the effective next-generation aircraft the Army seeks.”

The Army officially kicked off the FARA competition in October with a solicitation on the government’s contracting website. The document lays out a four-phase competitive prototyping effort that should yield operational, experimental aircraft flying by November 2022.

“L3’s deep experience in providing cutting-edge capabilities to the U.S. Army and Special Operations communities fits very well with AVX Aircraft’s expertise in clean-sheet helicopter design,” said Troy Gaffey, AVX Aircraft chairman and chief executive. “We look forward to showing the Army that we are the non-traditional solution they are looking for to propel them into the future.”

Two rotorcraft industry giants already are stalking the FARA award. Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider has been flying a test regime for several years and recently exceeded 200 knots in forward flight. Raider uses coaxial rigid rotors for lift and an aft pusher propulsor for forward thrust. Sikorsky, now owned by Lockheed Martin [LMT], has formally announced Raider as a contender for FARA.

AVX was cut from the ongoing Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD), in which a Boeing [BA]-Sikorsky team’s SB-1 Defiant compound helicopter is facing off against Bell’s [TXT] V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor.

Bell will also compete for FARA, though no details of its prospective platform are available beyond the fact that there is one. Chief Executive Mitch Snyder on Oct. 2 said the company has already worked up a prototype design but is not ready to make it public.

Between four and six awards are planned in June 2019 and then industry hopefuls will have nine months to provide preliminary aircraft designs, data and "insight required" to whittle the competition to two companies that will participate in a design and risk review.

The Army describes the desired platform as a "knife fighter" of future battlefield capabilities in a "small form factor … with maximized performance."

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