Bell is prioritising affordability, low risk, and high speed with its 360 Invictus helicopter, which it is offering for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft-Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) procurement.
Keith Flail, Bell vice-president for advanced vertical lift systems, told reporters on 1 October that the company will offer a platform with a single main rotor that features low drag and a tandem cockpit fuselage. The 360 Invictus leverages many technologies from Bell’s commercial 525 programme, including a low-drag hub and high-speed rotor blades.
Flail said the 525 has exceeded 200 kt of airspeed in testing and that the US Army’s FARA requirement is 180 kt. The aircraft will be powered by a General Electric (GE) simple improved turbine engine. The platform has a supplemental power unit that engages with the drive system to provide additional speed and power when necessary.
Flail said Bell settled on its strategy focused on affordability and simplicity so it could meet the US Army’s speed requirement while allowing a sustainable aircraft.
“Everything we have done has been focused on how [to keep] the lowest drag possible on the aircraft so we do not have to add exotic solutions to the aircraft to meet the requirements to get to the speeds that you need,” Flail said.
The 360 Invictus will have a lift-sharing wing that Flail said will offload about 50% of lift once the aircraft reaches 180 kt so that the platform’s fully articulated rotor system is a much more efficient propulsor. This eliminated the need for a second propulsor, Flail said.