EADS North America has concluded a national demonstration tour that allowed Army aviators to experience the capabilities of the company's AAS-72X+ Armed Aerial Scout helicopter offering. The AAS-72X+, an armed derivative of the Army's highly successful UH-72A Lakota, is on display this week at the Association of the U.S. Army annual exposition in Washington, D.C.
The AAS-72X+ will be manufactured by the company's American Eurocopter business unit in Columbus, Miss., on the same hot production line that has delivered 240 Lakotas on time and on budget. Lockheed Martin provides the mission computer and integrates the mission equipment.
From Oct. 9 to 19, company officials provided flight time in a representative aircraft to pilots from the Army's Armed Aerial Scout community at Fort Riley, Kan., Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Bragg, N.C.
"We want the warfighters who know first-hand how demanding the Armed Aerial Scout mission is to experience the difference in performance that the AAS-72X+ offers," said Sean O'Keefe, EADS North America Chairman and CEO.
The national demo tour followed on the heels of a highly successful Voluntary Flight Demonstration (VFD) EADS North America conducted for Army evaluators in the mountains of Colorado in late September and early October. The VFD was part of the service's effort to assess potential replacements for the OH-58 Kiowa, which was first fielded more than four decades ago.
"It's time for a competition," O'Keefe said. "We've proven that we have an affordable, low-risk solution that can close the operational gap between the demands of the Armed Aerial Scout mission and the limited capabilities of the current single-engine, Vietnam-era aircraft."
EADS North America chose to fly its VFD in the mountains to showcase the exceptional performance of the AAS-72X+ offering at the higher altitudes that are most demanding for helicopters. Routinely flying missions between 10,000 and 14,000 feet, pilots met or exceeded Army helicopter performance and handling standards normally assessed at sea level.
The AAS-72X+, which is cost-competitive with the upgrades planned for the OH-58, could be fielded with Army units as early as 2016.
Source: European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company EADS N.V. (Paris: EAD.PA)
Date: Oct 23, 2012