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Sat, Jan 12, 2013

Army Officials: No Scout Helo RFP Before 2014

Industry Has Been Performing Demonstrations Flights Since Last Year

While helicopter companies have been wooing U.S. Army officials with demonstration flights of potential replacements to the Kiowa Warrior scout aircraft, Army officials now say the earliest they could issue an RFP for the aircraft is the summer of 2014.

Just before the Association of the United States Army's aviation symposium at National Harbor, MD, this week, Col. John Lynch, capability manager for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, told reporters that Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin said he needs more details about the potential competitors. "We got sent back with more homework to do," Lynch said of a meeting with Austin just before Christmas.

The blog National Defense reports that the Army has even delayed a decision on whether to hold a competition until this summer. While the aircraft that participated in the voluntary demonstration program last year were all deemed to be better than the existing technology, "everything ... is conventional technology," Lynch said. Companies that are mentioned as potential competitors are Bell, EADS, Sikorsky, and AgustaWestland.

The Army says it will eventually replace all of its helicopters as part of its Future Vertical Lift program, which has a goal of flying a new aircraft by 2030. But officials say that is a long time to fly an aircraft like the Kiowa Warrior. The Army has tried twice in the past to replace the helo, but both times the programs were canceled due to delays and cost overruns.

(Kiowa Warrior pictured in file photo)

FMI: www.army.mil

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