Bell decided to change the design of the 360 Invictus helicopter, which participates in the US Army’s FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) competition.
The original configuration included a ducted tail rotor, similar to the Fenestron used by Airbus for several decades. But recent Invictus illustrations show a conventional, open-rotor solution.
As Bell told Defense News, the conventional rotor configuration proved more advantageous for several reasons, including lighter weight and being tested on the civilian 525 Relentless helicopter.
The US Army is looking for an aircraft that is capable of replacing the retired OH-58 Kiowa on reconnaissance and escort missions.
Among the program’s requirements are reaching 180 knots of speed and a maximum weight of up to 14,000 lbs.
The FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) program is disputed by Bell and Sikorsky, which develops the Raider X, a helicopter with coaxial rotors and propeller blades, technology called X2.
The Raider X and 360 Invictus are scheduled to fly in 2023 to begin the prototype evaluation phase.