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US Army ends Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) -The U.S. Army said on Thursday it was abandoning development of a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), a next-generation scout helicopter, after spending about $2 billion on the program.

The Army said that after a "sober assessment of the modern battlefield" it would instead increase investment in uncrewed aircraft.

"We are learning from the battlefield - especially in Ukraine - that aerial reconnaissance has fundamentally changed,” Army Chief of Staff General Randy George said in a statement.

The Army began the FARA program in 2018 and two years later picked designs by Textron's Bell unit and Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin Company.

Sikorsky said in a statement that its X2 aircraft, designed for the FARA program, offered "speed, range and agility that no other helicopter in the world can match."

"We remain confident in X2 aircraft for U.S. and international mission needs now and in the future," Sikorsky said. "We are disappointed in this decision and will await a U.S. Army debrief to better understand its choice.”

The Army said that in addition to ending development of FARA, it would cease production of the UH-60V version of the Black Hawk.

After the announcement, Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman, Republican vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he would hold a hearing on the Army's aviation plans.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Stephen Coates and Gerry Doyle)