MILITARY | ATTACK
The U.S. Army’s plan to rebid its Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program after cancelling a contract with Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. last fall will "certainly come under some challenge" by the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff or civilian Defense Department leaders, Brig. Gen. Walter L. Davis, director of Army aviation for the Deputy Chief of Staff for operations, told the AUSA aviation symposium. Davis vowed that Army leaders would "be resolute with respect to our demand and need for a light, armed, manned" helicopter.
Speaking separately, Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Speakes, deputy chief of staff of the Army for force development, said the service already had fended off arguments that the ARH’s scout missions could be done more cheaply by unmanned aerial vehicles. "The challenge was direct," Speakes reported.
The Army wants the ARH to replace its aging Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, which routinely log more combat flight hours than any other type. "We still have a valid requirement for the armed reconnaissance helicopter," Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., declared. "We are going to get an armed reconnaissance helicopter."
The Army is evaluating replies to a Request for Information it sent out to industry last fall seeking ideas on how a new ARH should be configured and what it should be able to do. The service is writing a new set of requirements for the aircraft which bidders will have to meet. Among them is an increased emphasis on crew survivability, Barclay said.