In anticipation of a competitive flight demonstration, EADS North America's Armed Aerial Scout 72X (AAS-72X) is on display at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) convention this week in Washington, DC.
The AAS-72X, an armed derivative of the Army's UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter manufactured by the company's American Eurocopter business unit, has completed the majority of its militarization requirements in a company-funded development effort that began in 2009.
EADS North America also announced at AUSA that Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) has joined the AAS-72X team and will be responsible for the design, engineering and production of simulation and training devices in support of U.S. Army operator and maintainer requirements.
"We're pleased to welcome Rockwell Collins to the EADS North America Armed Scout team, the team that is offering the most capable of any armed scout helicopter solution," said Sean O'Keefe, CEO of EADS North America. "We're ready to prove that fact through a competitive flight demonstration to validate that we can meet the Army's demanding armed scout mission."
A highly capable helicopter for the Armed Aerial Scout mission, the AAS-72X combines the safety of a twin-engine aircraft and the high/hot operating performance necessary to meet the Army's demanding Armed Scout mission. Derived from the same family of aircraft as the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, the AAS-72X is a low-risk evolution of the U.S. Army's newest rotary-wing aircraft, which is widely considered one of the most successful acquisition programs in the service's history.
The EADS North America-led industry team of American Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has made a significant investment in the development of three AAS-72X Technical Demonstrator Aircraft (TDA), which have been used to conduct parallel development and risk reduction activities, and to demonstrate the armed scout's level of capability and technical maturity. The first TDA Aircraft made its maiden flight in December 2010.
Prior to the start of the TDA program, the company conducted high/hot hover-out-ofground-effect, endurance and payload testing in 2009 at Alamosa, Colo. utilizing a helicopter derived from the UH-72A Lakota/EC145 platform family. In that test the helicopter successfully operated at 6,000 feet and 95-degree density altitude. The team also conducted a key transportability test when five aircraft were successfully loaded in a C-17 transport aircraft. Additionally, EADS North America and Lockheed Martin established a System Integration Laboratory (SIL) and hangar in April 2010 at Lockheed Martin's Orlando, Fla. facility.
The AAS-72X demonstration aircraft is equipped with a Mission Equipment Package (MEP) that includes a chin-mounted turret with integrated targeting sensor, mannedunmanned teaming capability, communications suite and weapons. All MEP items already are in the Army inventory.
Production of the AAS-72X will take place at American Eurocopter's Columbus, Miss. helicopter center of excellence where the UH-72A Lakota is currently manufactured for the U.S. Army. EADS North America has delivered more than 190 UH-72A Lakotas to the Army, all on time and within budget, along with five H-72A versions to the U.S. Navy for test pilot training.
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