Earlier this year, the Army selected five companies to begin building prototypes for future rotary wing assets. One of the companies, Bell, came up with the ‘360 Invictus’ which is being coined as a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft. Bell has built several helicopters and assets for the U.S. Army in the past.
In an attempt to remain cost effective, Bell decided they would utilize the standard helicopter design as well as integrating parts from some of their existing aircraft. This could essentially save repair turnaround dollars and time, if the aircraft is selected and fielded, as they would not have to build specialized parts if too many aircraft have issues.
Bell also took inspiration from some of the Army’s other aircraft like giving it a similar look to the Comanche or utilizing the same weaponry as the Apache. The aircraft will have seating for two with a 360 degree view and will be adapted to use in urban, tight spaced environments. The other unique aspect of the Invictus is the fact that it could be remote controlled without an internal operator.
While only smaller scaled models have been built for the aircraft so far, the company plans to release a full scale model later this month in DC at the Association of the United States Army conference. They are also hoping to have the first flight in 2022, which is one of the fastest ‘turn and burn’ concepts the Army has initiated so far. Typically, it takes decades to design and release military advancements of any kind.
The Army is looking to up the ante on the Kiowa design and the plan is to get Invictus up to speeds of 200mph. In addition to 20mm cannons like the Apache, the helo is said to be designed to carry hellfire missiles and other advanced weaponry carried inside it and released mechanically, like a fighter jet.
Four other companies, including a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin are also designing prototypes to be selected and released by 2030 as part of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift Initiative.