EADS North America and Lockheed Martin "are teaming up to develop a new armed scout helicopter to meet the Army’s armed reconnaissance helicopter mission," according to a company statement.
The industry team, which also includes American Eurocopter, was announced today at the Army Aviation Association of America's big annual conference in Nashville, TN.
Our full story will follow in a few minutes; here's a healthy excerpt:
Lockheed Martin will serve as the equipment package integrator for the platform, named Armed Scout 645. A full-scale version of the new airframe is on exhibit at the conference, according to an EADS North America statement.
In October, the Army canceled its Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, a program on contract with Bell Helicopter Textron, due to cost overruns and delays. ARH was set to replace Kiowa Warrior helicopters and equip a number of AH-64A Apache battalions. A new competition has not yet been launched.
The Army is reviewing its requirements for a replacement program before conducting a formal “analysis of alternatives” that will help service officials determine how best to proceed. The Army has said that unmanned systems will be considered as part of this analysis.
“The analysis will cover the entire spectrum of options -- from the potential use of ((unmanned aerial vehicles)) to the use of a manned/unmanned aircraft mix to the procurement of a new manned platform,” said Army Director of Aviation Brig. Gen. Walter Davis and Brig. Gen. William Crosby, program executive officer for aviation, in their joint statement at an April 23 House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee hearing.
The Armed Scout 645 is based on Eurocopter’s EC145 commercial airframe, the same platform for the Army’s UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter, said EADS North America in its statement. The company also announced plans to produce the new airframe at American Eurocopter’s facility in Columbus, MS, where UH-72As are manufactured.
“We’re confident that our team has a low-risk technical path to meet or exceed the performance requirements the Army outlined in the Sources Sought document,” said David Oliver, EADS North America chief operating officer, in a statement. “Our highly capable and best-value solution will meet the Army’s armed scout capability gap, and has the flexibility to respond to the customer’s evolving mission scenarios in both current and future conflicts.”