Bell is entering a smaller variant of its 525 Relentless super-medium twin in the Army’s upcoming Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition. That’s what the CEO of Bell’s parent company, Textron, said this week.
On a conference call with stock analysts, Scott Donnelly said Bell’s entry in the competition is based on “taking that technology that we validated in the 525 program and scaling that down to a size and weight that's consistent with the FARA requirement.” Donnelly noted that the 525 had already achieved speeds in excess of 200 knots during test flights and that its rotor technology and fly-by-wire flight controls would allow Bell to field a conventional-looking helicopter that would meet the Army’s key speed goal for FARA of 205 knots while providing “a much more cost-effective” solution for the mission. Donnelly said the 525 technology “has enabled us to field a more conventional helicopter that has very high speed, very efficient, very smooth operating capability.”
Bell had declined to provide specifics of its FARA offering to date, but Donnelly said, “it’s not going to be a secret for long.” Bell is wrapping up certification flight testing on the 20,500-pound (mtow) 525 this year. The Army is expected to downselect four to six finalists for the program in June and narrow the field to two by March 2020.