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S97 Raider

Old 13th Jul 2022, 15:25
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Waiting for an Engine

Currently both Sikorsky and Bell state the first flight of the FARA prototypes are being delayed waiting for the customers supplied engine.

Assuming both receive their engines this November, it will be interesting to see if this is really the long pole in their first flight schedules.
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Old 13th Jul 2022, 18:46
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Originally Posted by Commando Cody View Post
Lone Wolf:

I for one think your "revolver" idea is really clever, although eight missiles might be a tight fit. The big bugaboo would be weight, since Army has tight limit on acceptable gross weight for FARA.
The idea could be scaled down a bit to a pair of 'three packs' (one for each side) that revolve: top two un armed, bottom one armed, so more of a 'triangle' than a revolver, if they have to meet an internal weight bogey.
Aha, finally see what they are up to with the Invictus/360 sliding armament racks, from the link.

Can anyone explain to me why 360/Invictus/Bell FARA has two pilots? (Or pilot/gunner)
I would think that the automation, helmets, and mission packages developed for a variety of aircraft over last 30 years could be modded and integrated into this weapons system and allow it to be flown/operated by a single pilot. (Like an A-7, F-35, F-16, and so on).
Comments on that?
Did the Army write a hard requirement for 'must be a two seat aircraft' into this future system?

The impression I get from the pictures at The Drive link is that the wings are intended to be lift producing devices, not stub wings for weapons stations.
As depicted, they do not look to be adjustable in pitch (like the Black Hawk Horizontal stab) but basically wings similar to a fixed wing aircraft. And it occurs to me that they might include fuel capacity / tanks that cannot be down in the hull where the missiles / weapons slide in and out on that rack.
An interesting hybrid, to be sure.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 13th Jul 2022 at 19:13.
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Old 13th Jul 2022, 22:07
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Invictus’s wings date back to the Bell 533 high speed test aircraft with the main purpose to allow rotor thrust to be used for speed instead of lift.

Invictus is less two pilots than a pilot and a systems/drone manager. Also, when lurking in the trees a second pair of eyes is essential.
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Old 14th Jul 2022, 01:51
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Aside from lift, one of the other purposes that has been shown in illustrations is that they provide two more weapons stations. However, they probably couldn't be used for such while staying within the Army's weight limit unless it's acceptable to go over to carry more so long as you meet the requirement when carrying the Army specified load. In any case, using the stations would entail a noticeable performance hit, but it might be an acceptable option in cases where maximum firepower is most important.

Regarding the second crewman, Raider-X also has a crew of two. Don't forget, the original Army requirement for LHX (which eventually became Comanche) specified single pilot. This was eventually dropped when reality stepped in. Like The Sultan said, workload.



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Old 14th Jul 2022, 03:59
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Originally Posted by Commando Cody View Post
Regarding the second crewman, Raider-X also has a crew of two. Don't forget, the original Army requirement for LHX (which eventually became Comanche) specified single pilot. This was eventually dropped when reality stepped in. Like The Sultan said, workload.
I am reasonably aware of the LHX failure, and the risk decisions on missions systems integration on Comanche in terms of cockpit loading, but mission systems in general have come a long way since the 1980's. Army is not good at getting out of old paradigms, and never has been. I will say that I believe that the Apache mafia did as much harm as good in the Comanche's development ... but that's all water under the bridge.
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Old 14th Jul 2022, 07:11
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
I am reasonably aware of the LHX failure, and the risk decisions on missions systems integration on Comanche in terms of cockpit loading, but mission systems in general have come a long way since the 1980's. Army is not good at getting out of old paradigms, and never has been. I will say that I believe that the Apache mafia did as much harm as good in the Comanche's development ... but that's all water under the bridge.
I'd say there's a fundamental reality to flying rotorcraft nap of the earth, which is that the pilot flying has a high workload and a no fail task that automation can't cope with yet unless you give it active sensors (trees, wires, ducks and geese). Active sensors come with a freedom of action penalty due to emcon, so that rules out most automation for now, until computer vision gets really good. Maximum allowable time eyes in for a pilot flying at or below 50' is maybe a second or 2 at cruise speeds. Not really an opportunity there to operate anything or assess a sensor picture.

Contrast that with fast jet aircraft at medium level where the pilot can be eyes in for a few more seconds at a time - here automation of flying tasks and sensor fusion has made single pilot ops feasible.

I would say that advances have meant the non flying crew member can be expected to do a lot more: uncrewed teaming brings in a lot of information but we're a long way from that just being neatly dropped as threats on to a map from an EO picture though AI might help get that over the line to warfighting standard in the next decade or so. (Noting that things a helicopter crew care about tend to be harder to find than something a jet monkey cares about).

Tesla's computer vision kit is probably the most advanced real world example and that can't cope with the real world to appropriate safety standards yet, so we can't really expect a niche application for military rotorcraft to be any better tbh. Everyone that has gone one better is essentially relying on an active sensor of some description (typically LIDAR, which at least is relatively low prob of intercept). Active sensor reliance, as mentioned earlier, limits you due to emcon, but also introduces as massive vulnerability for hostile exploitation unless you have a few alternatives. Demoes of uncrewed Blackhawks going from A to B are great, but it's not tactical flying in a warfighting operation with a bad guy vote.
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Old 14th Jul 2022, 18:33
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OK, I guess the old 'task saturation' bogey is still out there, thanks for the in depth response pba_target.
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Old 14th Jul 2022, 20:40
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Drone Captain

The introduction of armed drones has forced the Army to continually redefine mission and crew requirements.

Armed drones helped kill the need for the Comanche, and commanding a squadron of drones may require a FARA second seat.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 19:36
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There are some other reasons for the second crew member in addition to what's in pba_target's comprehensive post:

Aside from strictly nap of the earth operations, there's simply the reality of flying low level in irregular terrain that's going to keep the pilot pretty focused without the complication of trying to read and interpret sensors and programming and launching weapons. Army says it wants to operate FARA in urban environments. There's going to be enough going on in that situation without burdening the pilot with other tasks unrelated to flying and maneuvering the ship. There'd be a lot of right brain/left brain things going on which would Beverly degrade effectiveness. Also, while firing the cannon straight ahead wouldn't be too burdensome, consider what would be involved mentally in maintaining safe flight while simultaneously operating the cannon off-axis, especially against a mobile target.

Last edited by Commando Cody; 20th Jul 2022 at 19:57.
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