The United States is looking to purchase Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) to replace 350 or half of Boeing AH-64 Apache gunships.
The new copters were to replace only the now-retired fleet of 300 Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior copters previously.
"The FARA will only replace Apaches in our heavy attack reconnaissance squadrons and this represents about half of the Apache fleet," a spokesperson for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Aviation Week.
A consortium of Boeing and Lockheed is developing the S-97 "pusher" rotorcraft that could meet the FARA requirements. Bell is working on the V-280 tiltrotor that might also meet the Army's needs.
"We’re looking for an aircraft that, without going into specific requirements or classifications, essentially goes further, can see further, can acquire specific targets further and can engage at greater ranges than current exist and has greater legs – can fly further with a greater payload of weapon systems," Milley told Congress on March 26, 2019.
The AH-64 platform's relevance and sustainability in conditions after 2048 is questionable, according to The War Zone.
The Army expects to be integrating significant upgrades into its latest AH-64E Guardian variants through 2026. These include updates to its fire control and targeting systems, improved data sharing and fusion capabilities, better sensors, a more robust ability to work directly with unmanned aircraft and more, the report added.