One might have expected sealed lips on the troubled ARH-70A Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program at the annual Army Aviation Assn. of America gathering in Atlanta, coming as it did just a week before a May 18 do-or-die program review. Quite the contrary.
First, grumbling among the Bell Helicopter contractor team about baffling Army actions in threatening the program was replaced by a "customer’s-always-right" mindset. Asked the source of delay-inducing problems — FLIR Systems’ targeting sensors, Rockwell Collins’ glass cockpit, or the two in league — Bell’s Bob Ellithorpe said, "It’s 100 percent Bell."
Still, Bell Executive Vice President John Bean explained the obstacle to a limited user test, now slipped from February to "later this year," was FLIR’s difficulty in getting two BRITE STAR 2 sensor balls working satisfactorily. The FLIR/Rockwell issues were resolved 2-3 months ago. "We need to have two aircraft with two balls that both work" for that key test.