According to the aerospace company, the Bell 360 Invictus next general assault helicopter is at 30 percent completion. The prototype will be ready to fly by the end of 2022, when entirely constructed in Amarillo, Texas.
Bell 360 Invictus status
Keith Flail, Bell's vice president of next-generation vertical lift systems, stated parts like interior structure and fuselage skin of the X-aircraft are all install, reported Vertical Lift Mag.
He told reporters that structure and skins are getting assembled on the aircraft, next will installing systems to follow. This was said by the company official on the occasion of Bell's virtual media day last March 24.
Explained the groundwork for the preparations for the test flight of the Invictus in the summer of 2022 to test Bell's prototype finally.
Vice president Flail added that the nose-to-tail structural support is in place, including the cockpit to the firewall assembly for the engine, the tail of the aircraft. Saying the skeleton of the Invictus is ready for the other parts.
Invictus attack copter for Future Attack Recon Aircraft (FARA) trials
Bell calls their advanced chopper a conventional single-rotor helicopter with a canted tail rotor, featuring a low drag profile. It is involved in the U.S. Army's new Future Attack Recon Aircraft (FARA), competing with Sikorsky and another aerospace firm, cited Army Mil.
The Bell 360 Invictus is based on the Army's FARA specifications based on a 40-foot (12 meters) square box, with a minimum speed of 180 knots or faster. More specs needed is a combat radius of 135 nautical miles, and After 90 minutes on the station, reach a 4k/95F hover free of ground impact (HOGE).
Bell and Sikorsky's Raider X compound coaxial helicopter are selected to continue into the competitive design and risk-reduction phase of FARA in March 2020, mentioned Defense News. In 2023, the two prototypes will engage in a fly-off. The best performing chopper will get the contract.
Soon to fly FARA in the 2030s
The contract winner will have its prototype in use by the 2030s; it replaces the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, which was retired and whose roles are done by the AH-64 Apache gunships working with RQ-7 Shadow drones.
Flying in the 2030s, FARA should take on the armed scout helicopter role vacated by the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior currently being performed by AH-64 Apache gunships teamed with RQ-7 Shadow drones. Future Attack Recon Aircraft is vital in the air cavalry, especially for scout missions or close air supports of troops.
An army body called the Army Requirements Oversight Council will decide what will pass in the chosen winner of the FARA chopper contract, indicated last April. Flail remarked the AROC would have the final say on the prototype in the fly-off completion.
Choosing the Invictus for Bell's FARA entrant came with how much the army is willing to spend. Going over the existing and developmental rotorcraft technologies to design and build the Bell 360 Invictus for the next-gen recon and attack chopper in one.
Its FARA pitch is designed with the Army's price in mind. The company has gone through its existing and developmental rotorcraft technologies to assemble a futuristic, more capable, but ultimately conventional FARA offering.
The rotor assembly, rotor dynamics, gearboxes, and flight control system of the Invictus are all taken from the 525 Relentless commercial helicopters.
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