As expected, the contract to develop the successor to the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior is again up for grabs.
The Department of Defense terminated Bell’s contract to develop a military variant of the civil 407 helicopter after development costs roughly tripled and the in-service date was delayed four years.
Here’s the DOD’s statement, with the first quote by John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics:
“Rather than continue this program”, Young said, “I have decided thatthe best course of action is to provide the Army with an opportunity todefine a coherent, disciplined Kiowa Warrior helicopter replacementprogram, and to obtain more rigorous contract terms for itsdevelopment.”Secretary of the ArmyPete Geren stated, “The cost and schedule that were the focus of thedecision to award the contract to Bell Helicopter are no longervalid. We have a duty to the Army and the taxpayer to move ahead withan alternative course of action to meet this critical capability forour Soldiers at the best price and as soon as possible.”
Here’s Bell’s statement:
We are extremely disappointed by this decision and still believe that the ARH-70A is the best replacement for the Kiowa Warrior. The ARH System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract test aircraft have already accumulated over 1,400 flight hours and have accomplished several important program milestones.
The ARH has proven to be a great performing aircraft and we are in the process of evaluating the impact of this decision and our next steps.
And here’s the army’s statement:
“We will rapidly pursue a re-validation of the particularcharacteristics needed for this capability so that we can restart theprocess of acquiring a manned, armed reconnaissance helicopter,” said Lt.Gen. James Thurman.