The US Army has issued the following statement on helicopter procurement as part of a wider statement on how it responds to cuts in the military budget. It refers to the lack of “viable candidates” for the US Army Armed Aerial Scout program, which we read as “No candiates falls within our newly-tightened Budget constraints”
The Army has been looking for a follow-on to the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter for some time. As one lawmaker pointed out, the Army was going to replace the Kiowa Warrior with the Comanche aircraft — but that program was cancelled. There was also the Armed Reconnaissance Program and most recently the Armed Aerial Scout, or AAS, program. The AAS program recently looked at commercially available helicopters to see if they would be good candidates for militarization — but none proved a viable candidate.
Barclay said the Army continues to look for a replacement for the Kiowa Warrior, however, it is also now working on modernization of the aircraft. By late summer, he said, based on outcomes of fiscal guidance, the Army will make a determination on the way ahead for the Armed Aerial Scout program, or will make a determination on a service life extension program, or SLEP, for the Kiowa Warrior. Still, he said, those options would not get into the field until the mid- to late 2020s.
As a stop-gap, he said, the Army is now working the cockpit and sensor upgrade program, or CASUP, for the Kiowa Warrior. That, he said, includes “obsolescence and safety upgrades” to the current fleet. The first Kiowa Warrior with the CASUP upgrades will fly an inaugural flight, April 30.
“That is our bridge,” he said, until decisions are made about SLEP or AAS.
Editor Note – There is no suggestion that they are being rejected on performance or technical grounds. The bidders were
– AgustaWestland AW169
– Eurocopter UH-72A
– Boeing AH6i
– MD Helicopters MD540F
– AVX Aircraft concept based on OH-58
– Sikorsky S-97
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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