The US Army has awarded contracts to five competitors to design, build and test Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototypes.

The five partners that received other transaction authority (OTA) contracts for the programme are AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopter Textron, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft.

US Army Contracting Command-Redstone executive director Joseph Giunta said: “This is not procurement as usual. The OTA capability gives us flexibility, allowing us to be more responsive to the timelines in order to meet specific requirements.”

The aircraft will be developed to replace the ageing OH-58 Kiowa fleet. It can close or mitigate gaps in army aviation attack and reconnaissance, and achieve overmatch against potential competitors and enduring asymmetric threats.

“The army is already streamlining the modernisation process to provide our soldiers, and our future soldiers, the equipment they need.”

US Army Futures Command Commanding General John Murray said: “In just over a one-year period, the army moved from the FARA ‘kick-off’ to now awarding prototype contracts, a process that traditionally takes three to five years to achieve.

“While much work remains to be done, today’s announcement certainly highlights how the army is already streamlining the modernisation process to provide our soldiers, and our future soldiers, the equipment they need when they need it to win on future battlefields.”

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Last month, the US Army noted that source selection for the FARA was underway as its Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Cross-Functional Team looks to award two vendors in March next year.

FVL cross-functional team director Walter Rugen said that the army plans to replace approximately half of its ageing AH-64 fleet after FARA is fielded.

In addition to the FARA programme, the army plans to replace the UH-60 Black Hawk.