The U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) procurement saga took another twist in May when Lt. Gen. William Phillips, Army acquisition advisor to the Secretary of the Army, appeared before a Senate Armed Services Congressional subcommittee on Airland.
Commenting on last summer’s flying technology demonstrations provided by each helicopter manufacturer looking to participate in a new Request for Proposal (RFP) for an AAS platform, Phillips stated: “We didn’t find a single aircraft that was out there that could meet the Army’s requirements...so if we were to go forward with an Armed Aerial Scout it would essentially be a development program.”
The decision has been shelved again until the late summer. The choice now seems to be heading toward either a new development program or providing the current aircraft, the Bell OH-58D/F Kiowa Warrior, with a service life extension program (SLEP). A stop-gap solution was currently being fielded with is the cockpit and sensor upgrade program (CASUP) to a limited number of OH-58Ds.
Many of the industry competitors had voiced publically their satisfaction with the Army’s evaluation team during the technology demonstrations, including EADS North America (AAS-72X/+), Bell Helicopter (OH-58 Block II), Boeing (AH-6), MD Helicopters (540F), and AgustaWestland (AW169 AAS). Sikorsky is interested too, with its still-in-development S-97 Raider (X2 derivative).
In addition, Lt. Gen. James Barclay, deputy chief of staff of the Army (G-8), had previously told the committee that cuts in defense spending in areas including “acquisition priorities and modernization programs” were likely to be impacted over the immediately foreseeable years. He added that funds needed to be allocated to resetting the Army once it came out of Afghanistan. He said all the equipment needed to be reset so that it could be returned to units for future operations. “Failure to get this right will impact the equipment readiness of our units for years to come,” he noted.