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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 11:41 AM

Exclusive: U.S. Army officials said to back new scout helicopter


Exclusive: U.S. Army officials said to back new scout helicopter
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON | Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:37pm EST

(Reuters) - U.S. Army officials this week backed a plan to buy new armed scout helicopters instead of extending the life of the Army's aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters, sources familiar with the Army's plans told Reuters on Friday.

Army acquisition chief Heidi Shyu and other officials agreed to start the new acquisition program for the smaller military helicopter at a meeting on Thursday, but senior Army and Pentagon officials must still sign off on the new acquisition program, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

It will be the Army's third attempt to start replacing the OH-58 helicopters, which were built by Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc. The basic OH-58 airframe dates back to the Vietnam War era, although it has been upgraded and modernized several times since then to keep it current.


If the new "Armed Aerial Scout" program survives the budget process, it would be the latest in a string of Army efforts to buy a new fleet of armed light helicopters that began in 2004 after cancellation of the Comanche helicopter program.

unhappycamper comment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAH-66_Comanche

Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche

The Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche was an advanced five-blade armed reconnaissance and attack helicopter designed for the United States Army. The RAH-66 program was canceled in 2004, before mass production began, after nearly $7 billion was spent on the program.

During the early 1980s, the U.S. Army began formulating a requirement for the replacement of its helicopters then in service, resulting in the Light Helicopter Experimental program. In 1991, the Boeing-Sikorsky team was chosen to produce prototypes. The Comanche would incorporate stealth technologies, featuring a number of designs previously untried. It was to employ advanced sensors in its reconnaissance role, and was intended to designate targets for the AH-64 Apache. The aircraft was also armed with missiles and rockets to destroy armored vehicles. Two RAH-66 prototypes were built and conducted flight testing from 1996 to 2004. Since the cancellation the prototypes have been placed on display.

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