Here we go again. The US Army has issued a “sources sought” notice for the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter contract stripped last month from the Bell 407 (nee ARH-70) programme.
The Army may procure up to 512 new Armed ReconnaissanceHelicopters with the capability to perform a Hover out of Ground Effect(HOGE) at 6,000 ft/95 degrees Fahrenheit and operate in an ArmedReconnaissance configuration with required range and endurance. The ARHwill conduct armed reconnaissance to fight for actionable combatinformation to enable joint/combined air-ground maneuver execution ofmobile strike, close combat and vertical maneuver operations across thefull-spectrum of military operations.
Last month, Boeing re-launched AH-6 light attack helicopter for the international market. Bell still owned the ARH contract at the time, and Boeing declined at that time to name the AH-6 as an ARH competitor. But we can safely assume Boeing will take a shot at the estimated $6 billion ARH contract.
Potential sources of drama for the re-competition involve whether Bell intends to re-submit the 407, and whether the Europeans will be excluded from the competitive field this time. In the original competition, no European helicopter met the army’s deployability criteria; specifically, the ability to unload two helicopters from a Lockheed Martin C-130 and be flyable within 15 minutes.