Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program halted, need for capability remains
October 17, 2008
On Oct. 16 the Department of Defense notified the Congress and the contractor, Bell Helicopter, that it will not certify the U.S. Army Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program for continuation. As a result the Army Acquisition Executive Office for Aviation is directing that the program's contract be terminated completely for the convenience of the government.
The ARH contract was awarded for an expected development cost of $359 million and a procurement average unit cost of $8.56 million. Currently, DoD estimates that development will cost $942 million and the procurement average unit cost will be $14.48 million. Delivery of ARH to the Army was originally scheduled to take place by 2009, but the current projection is for 2013.
"The cost and schedule that were the focus of the decision to award the contract to Bell Helicopter are no longer valid," Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said. "We have a duty to the Army and the taxpayer to move ahead with an alternative course of action to meet this critical capability for our Soldiers at the best price and as soon as possible."
Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, Army director of operations, stated "the war-fighting capability for a manned, armed, reconnaissance helicopter is crucial to supporting our ground combat commanders and remains a critical requirement for the Army. This decision does not, in any way, diminish the imperative for this capability. Our operational tempo, attrition, and losses of six aircraft per year underscore the need to fill this requirement as quickly as possible.
"To this end, we will rapidly pursue a re-validation of the particular characteristics needed for this capability so that we can restart the process of acquiring a manned, armed reconnaissance helicopter," said Lt Gen Thurman. "Concurrently, we will invest significant efforts into our existing Kiowa Warrior fleet that ensures our air crews and commanders continue to have the best capability possible to perform the mission," he said.