Karem Aircraft is a recent and little known company in the aerospace industry. But your story deserves attention. Founded in 2004 by Abraham Karem and based in California, the company is one of five competitors in the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program to choose a new attack and scout helicopter.
The dispute will take place in the coming years and involves three traditional companies, Boeing, Bell and Sikorsky, as well as AVX, the first to unveil its proposal.
But what makes Karem able to compete with such traditional manufacturers anyway? One of the reasons is called “Predator”. The famous military UAV used in various US missions is a project by Karem, a Jew born in Baghdad, Iraq, and now 82 years old.
Living in Israel from the 1950s, Karem specializes in drone technology, whose first project was used by the Israeli Air Force in the Yom Kippur war in the 1970s. Shortly thereafter, Karem migrated to the US where he created other unmanned aircraft including the MQ-1 Predator by General Atomics.
For these reasons, the engineer is considered a kind of “father of the modern unmanned flight”. Since then, Karem has partnered with giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin as well as DARPA, the US government’s advanced design agency, and even UberAir.
It was at this stage that Karem shifted his focus from unmanned to tilt-rotor aircraft. By imagining a technology capable of reaching high speeds, the company proposed a huge tilt-rotor for the US Army and also a civilian version called “Aerotrain”.
Now, however, Karem has revealed a different competitor to the FARA program. Called AR40, the advanced helicopter brings together some interesting concepts such as rigid rotor where blade movement is independent, with a pivoted pusher rotor.
According to Karem, the AR40 uses the tail rotor as anti-torque at slower speeds while rotating to the longitudinal position on cruise flights. The main rotor torque in this case is nullified by a vertical stabilizer.
The AR40 has a main rotor of just 11 meters in diameter and tilting wings with 12.2 meter wingspan. Powered by a GE Aviation T901 engine, the aircraft has two side-by-side seats plus a four-occupant rear cabin.
Karem has partnered with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, companies with the most experience in providing aircraft and systems to the US government, but believes its proposal is the most efficient and economical – capable of exceeding the 180kt speed required by technical requirements.
The US Army should select which manufacturers will produce advanced prototypes for the best bid selection phase in the coming years.