Army Wants to See Potential Scout Choppers Fly

The Army's top aviation officials just offered up a little more detail on the service's effort to modernize or replace its aging fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout choppers, at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference here in Washington.

Basically, the service hopes to host a flight demonstration -- not a fly off -- for defense contractors to show off their bids to replace the Army's OH-58 Kiowa Warrior armed scout helos. The demo will help the Army decide if it's worth it to buy a new fleet of scout choppers -- a move that could take cash away from other projects -- or put the OH-58s through a service life extension program, known as a SLEP.

The service can't afford to develop brand new scout chopper design so the helos offered up by industry will likely be updated versions of existing designs, according to Crosby.

This means that the Army will only evaluate designs that are already flying, no Powerpoint slides. As Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, the Army's top aircraft buyer put it, if a company doesn't have a flying aircraft, it "can't play" in the April demo.

Crosby is asking for about $8 million to host a demo that can accommodate up to five vendors.

The service will weigh the cost of buying, maintaining, deploying and training for any new scout chopper versus the cost of "SLEPing" the Kiowa Warriors.

This comes as the Army is looking to develop and field a brand new fleet of attack and utility helos, under the Joint Multirole (JMR) program, by 2030, said Crosby. This means the service must be very careful in how it spends its cash on things like the scout program lest it gobbles up cash meant for the JMR effort, warned Crosby.

The Army should be able to wrap up the evaluation of what it should do to deal with its aging OH-58s a few months after the April demo, Crosby told DT.

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