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The U.S. Army’s revived Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program may not end up being a helicopter at all, depending on the results of the service’s analysis of alternatives (AOA) on its aircraft fleet.

U.S. Army ARH Program Undergoes Major Shift





“The key performance parameters (KPP) are validated [for ARH],” Brig. Gen. William Crosby, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, said April 23 on the Capitol Hill. But with criticisms that the service was living in the past, “we decided we needed to take an appetite suppressant…Let’s objectively do an AOA that goes through and studies what is the right mix [of aircraft].” The AOA, which will include an evaluation of manned-unmanned teaming concepts and optionally piloted aircraft, will drive the future of the ARH program, Crosby added.


In an interview with Aerospace Daily April 23, Col. Frank Tate, action officer for attack and reconnaissance aviation programs, said there has been a major change in strategy for the Army.


“We’d hoped to come back in January with new KPPs and proceed at a Milestone B level,” which would have included a recompetition for the ARH program, which was canceled in October 2008 due to cost and schedule overruns on the part of Bell, the manufacturer awarded ARH in 2005. “We’re back to a pre-milestone A beginning,” Tate said. The original Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) stated the requirement for an armed scout “could be met with a pretty broad spectrum, to include unmanned aerial systems,” he said. “We will look at manned-unmanned teaming options to fulfill this requirement.”


Tate would not rule out the possibility of a recompetition for a new airframe, but said that the November 2008 Request for Information (RFI) from the industry netted disappointing results. “What we found…is that exactly what we’re looking for isn’t available immediately, and would be, based on our estimates, prohibitively expensive,” Tate said. The word from Crosby’s office was “that based on the results of the RFI, no manufacturer had an aircraft that exists today that met all the KPPs.”

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