Army Lays Out Plans For Pilot-Optional ‘Knife Fighter’ Attack Reconnaissance Rotorcraft

The U.S. Army wants to have two different optionally-manned ?attack reconnaissance? aircraft prototypes ? almost certainly advanced helicopter or tilt-rotor designs ? ready for a competitive fly-off by 2022. Part of the service?s larger Future Vertical Lift program, the rotorcraft could help fill the gap left when it prematurely retired the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, offer a possible replacement for some AH-64 Apache gunships and MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, and may offer some of the capabilities that were supposed to come along with the abortive RAH-66 Comanche stealth helicopter.

On June 22, 2018, the U.S. Army Futures Command released a draft solicitation for the proposed Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Competitive Prototype, or FARA CP, project, on the U.S. government’s main contracting website, FedBizOpps. As it stands now, the service wants to pick two finalists in 2020 and have the prototypes make their first flight in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2023, which begins on Oct. 1, 2022. The Army is looking for feedback on its initial plan by July 18, 2018, and the final version could feature a different timeline.