Sunday, October 19, 2008

What? No!

Fed up with schedule delays and soaring costs, the Defense Department late Thursday axed the Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program that was to provide a replacement for the service’s ageing OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. The Army’s contract with Bell-Textron was valued at more than $6 billion for some 500 new lightly armed scout aircraft. The Army’s Kiowa Warriors have seen heavy use in Iraq and are valued among aviators for their exceptional maneuverability at low altitudes.

In a press release, John Young, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer said, “Rather than continue this program, I have decided that the best course of action is to provide the Army with an opportunity to define a coherent, disciplined Kiowa Warrior helicopter replacement program, and to obtain more rigorous contract terms for its development.”

The ARH was originally projected to cost $8.56 million per aircraft with delivery to begin next year. DoD now estimates the helicopter will cost $14.48 million per copy and the initial delivery date had slipped to 2013.

Shocking I say, shocking!

Has the Army ever handled the acqusition of a helicopter well?
The Apache was a jacked up mess which was an outgrowth of the failed AH-56 Cheyenne. The ARH was the result of the failed Commanche program which in a past life was known as the LHX. The OH-58 was a result of the OH-6 contract being cancelled because Hughes helicopters deliberately underbid to win the contract and hoped to make their money back on spares and parts. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
As far as I know the Black Hawk acqusition went OK, so there's one program that actually went well...good job Army!



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