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The U.S. is Discontinuing FARA to Invest More in Reconnaissance UAVs. Europe was Already Ahead.

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Written by Laurențiu-Andrei Oltei

Edited by Alex Marchan

Supervised by Emile Clarke

The war in Ukraine is teaching us the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in reconnaissance because they are cheaper to produce and run than conventional military aircraft. UAVs have played a significant role in Ukrainian intel gathering. This signal has been picked up by the military industry in the United States and changes have been made accordingly. On the other side of the Atlantic, Europe already made the same move in 2019.

On 8 February 2024, the U.S. Army released a press statement announcing the discontinuation of the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) project (U.S. Army Public Affairs Division, 2024). It is a new manned reconnaissance helicopter prototype and a replacement for the Cold War-era Black Hawk helicopter (Tegler, 2024). Following this, The Chief of Staff of the Army, General Randy George, has emphasised the significant advancements UAVs have made in terms of their inexpensiveness and length of range, which is proven by their significantly wide use in the Ukraine conflict for reconnaissance (U.S. Army Public Affairs Division, 2024). General George also stated the reason behind the discontinuation of the FARA project is to redirect funds in UAV research and development projects, including the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, Launched Effects, and small commercial, unmanned aircraft systems (U.S. Army Public Affairs Division, 2024).

The FARA project was championed as a top modernisation priority as late as December last year (Thompson, 2023). By contrast, the European defence industry had prioritised the Eurodrone since 2019 (European Commission, 2019), even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Eurodrone, a joint program between France, Germany, Spain, and Italy meant to develop a European reconnaissance UAV, was started precisely because of the low relative cost of reconnaissance drones (Airbus, n.d.). Moreover, the Eurodrone was developed from the beginning as the backbone of the Future Combat Defence System (FCAS), which is another type of system the Americans have been slow in innovating, according to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks (Robertson, 2023).

This is telling, demonstrating that many factors such as geographical proximity to conflict make the difference in terms of military resilience preparations.


Airbus. (n.d.). Eurodrone. Airbus.

European Commission. (2019, March 19). European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects [Press release]. European Commission.

Robertson, N. (2023, August 28). Pentagon unveils ‘Replicator’ drone program to compete with China. Defense News.

Tegler, E. (2024, February 9). FARA is dead – The Army will trade new scout helicopters for drones. Forbes.

Thompson, L. (2023, December 4). Why the future attack reconnaissance aircraft remains army aviation’s top modernization priority. Forbes.

U.S. Army Public Affairs. (2024, February 8). Army announces Aviation Investment Rebalance.