Company proposals for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition tout their compliance with the service’s desired modular open systems approach (MOSA) digital backbone to allow plug and play capabilities for the aircraft’s avionics and mission systems.

One of the companies that has said it will comply with MOSA, Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] Sikorsky, unveiled its Raider X design for FARA this week at the Association of the United States Army annual conference. Raider X is a blueprint featuring a larger air frame than the S-97 compound coaxial Raider helicopter that the company has been flight testing.

Raider X is to use the company’s X2 rigid rotor technology for improved maneuverability, low-speed hover, off-axis hover, acceleration and braking.

In April the Army awarded Other Transaction Authority (OTA) for prototype agreements for the aircraft design, build, and test of FARA to five hopefuls: Sikorsky, Boeing [BA], an AVX/L3 Harris Technologies [LHX] team, Bell [TXT], and Karem Aircraft.

AVX/L3Harris are offering a coaxial-rotor compound helicopter , while Bell said its 360 Invictus offering will be based on the 525 helicopter design, and Karem Aircraft, which is teaming with Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Raytheon [RTN] has said it will apply its patented Optimum Speed Tiltrotor (OSTR) technology for its offering.

Collins Aerospace [UTX] is teamed with Bell on the MOSA avionics for the 360 Invictus.

“We’re really providing that modular open systems approach [for the Invictus] that allows the Army to realize some of the benefits they’re looking for,” Dave Schreck, Collins Aerospace’s vice president and general manager for military avionics and helicopters, said in an interview at AUSA. “The big requirements that are driving a lot of things that are going on in Future Vertical Lift, especially from an avionics provider perspective, are, number one, how do you get things out to the field quicker? So when you have a rapidly changing threat environment, and you have some innovative solution out there in industry somewhere–small company, medium, big company, no matter what–how do get that in two months, rather than two years? The other thing is how can you do that more affordably?”

Collins Aerospace’s Next Generation Flight Deck for Invictus will include its Assured Multicore processing components. The functionality of what previously would have required multiple computers will now be on one box, according to Collins Aerospace.

The company expects the Federal Aviation Administration to certify Collins Aerospace’s assured multi-core processor in the next 8 months. “It will be the first true multi-core certification at the FAA level for a civil cert,” Schreck said. “Right now, the military doesn’t have a lot of civil cert requirements. But, if you do have a civil cert, then there’s absolutely no discussing or no contention in terms of ‘can they really partition it?’ because we’ve had the civil certification authority say, ‘hey it’s good enough for civil.’ We’ve had a lot of dialogue with the Army as subject matter experts in this area in terms of how you do military certs and how those compare with a civil cert and how they should look at the work we’re dong. So even if you don’t get a full military cert, this is the kind of architecture you have.”

The assured multi-core processor “has the power to sustain all the data” on the MOSA digital backbone for FARA, Schreck said.

“You can have differing levels of DAL [Design Assurance Level] capabilities on the same processor,” he said of the assured multi-core processor. “You can have something that’s flight critical partitioned on the same processor that you have mission critical kinds of things, but they’re DAL-C, rather than DAL-A. So that allows a lot of flexibility with the Army. That’s again speed to get things fielded and also a significant cost reduction. If you have something that’s a mission systems kind of an upgrade, but you’re putting on a processor that has flight critical and therefore you have to get it re-certified, that drives a lot of cost and time in the schedule, both things the Army doesn’t like. So having these multiple cores allows us to partition and actually do those things separately.”

Luke Savoie, the president of aviation services for L3Harris, said that the AVX/L3Harris coaxial-rotor compound helicopter proposal for FARA, said that his company is drawing upon the experience it has building the processor for the Lockheed Martin F-35.

The AVX/L3Harris FARA offering is likely to feature a Garmin 3000 series integrated flight deck.

“We’re the only ones that look at MOSA as something that permeates the physical environment of the aircraft,” he said during an interview at AUSA. “Our MOSA is not just a box. It’s the box expanded. It provides not only the central nervous system, but also the cardiovascular system, not just the heart, not just the brain, but everything throughout the platform to allow modular applications of sensors and weapon systems.”

The Army awarded Sikorsky the largest share of the FARA Competitive Prototype (CP) development program with a $938.4 million contract; followed by Bell, $790 million; Boeing, $772 million; Karem Aircraft, $738 million; and AVX, $732 million.

The Army describes FARA as a “knife fighter” helicopter that will fill the gap left by retiring the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. The service said that FARA “will be capable of achieving and sustaining overmatch against potential competitors and enduring asymmetric threats by closing or mitigating gaps in Army aviation attack and reconnaissance.”

The Army may conduct an Initial Design and Readiness Review (IDRR) of the five FARA proposals in the coming months, followed by a downselect to two contractors next March. Those two companies are scheduled to design competitive prototypes followed by a “government-sponsored fly off” in 2023.

This article was originally published in our sister publication Aviation Today.