US Army cancels FARA attack helicopter program.

Concern about the industrial base has influenced the Army’s decision to radically change its aviation modernization plans, as two legacy helicopter production lines would have cooled in five years under its previous strategy, it has told lawmakers. The Army’s top procurement official.

The Army canceled the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program in February, arguing that acquiring a custom reconnaissance helicopter was no longer viable when small drones have become ubiquitous on battlefields like Ukraine.

As part of the savings from the cancellation, the Army said it would buy more UH-60M Blackhawks from Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and CH-47F Block II Chinooks from Boeing – the two lines in danger of being phased out by 2030 if the Army’s original plan had come to fruition, according to Doug Bush, undersecretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

“The conflict in Ukraine has reinforced the importance of the United States having a robust industrial base that is equipped to respond to the demands of the battlefield, the nation’s arsenals, and the needs of our allies. In light of these lessons learned, the Army determined that the previous path carried too many long-term risks,” Bush said in written testimony before the House Armed Services Air and Ground Tactical Subcommittee.

The cancellation of FARA was part of a broader review of the Army’s aging aviation plans, which also announced the end of production of the UH-60 V Black Hawk in the fiscal year 2025 due to rising costs, Plans to put General Electric’s improved turbine engine into production were shelved, and the Shadow and Raven drones were abandoned.

The Army will continue to develop future long-range assault aircraft with Textron and make new investments in unmanned aerial technologies, as announced at the time.

Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut asked Army officials how canceling FARA would affect the industrial base, noting that Sikorsky already employs about 600 engineers in his home state at its competitor to the FARA program, known as Raider. X, which competed with the Bell-Textron 360 Invictus.

Bush responded that most of the funding being shifted as a result of the changes will remain in the aviation portfolio and that the fiscal 2025 budget will show additional investment in Black Hawk research and development funds.

Rep. Rob Wittman, a Virginia Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Air and Ground Tactical Subcommittee, told reporters at a roundtable yesterday that he didn’t understand how the military had made a “180-degree turn.” to FARA – one of the service’s top aeronautical priorities – and wanted to hear officials lay out what technologies needed to be developed to fulfill the Army’s reconnaissance mission in the future.

“Spending $2 billion on a program that is now going in the complete opposite direction is a problem,” he said. “We want the Department of Defense to be innovative and creative. “We want them to take risks, but we also want them to be able to intervene much earlier in the process.”

New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross, the subcommittee’s top Democrat, noted that FARA is the Army’s third failed attempt to develop a replacement for the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter.

“I think the question we need to answer today is what has changed, especially in the last year,” he said.

Valeria Insinna