EADS North America has sweetened its offer to supply armed scout helicopters to the US Army based on the unarmed UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopter.
The Armed Scout AS645, unveiled by an EADS/Lockheed Martin team in May, exceeded the army's 2h 12min endurance threshold in a recent demonstration flight, with 35min of reserve fuel, EADS announced on 29 July.
EADS had previously revealed to flightglobal.com that the AS645 could meet the army's requirements for hover in "high-hot" conditions - 6,000ft (1,840m) and 35°C (95°F) - from a previous flight demonstration.
The helicopter used in the new demonstration also carried a simulated combat payload weighing 1,045kg (2,300lb).
© EADS North America
The AS645's demonstrated endurance still falls far short of the army's objective requirement for a 2h 40min sortie with 35min reserve fuel, but EADS claims to have a "technical path" to reach this goal.
After cancelling its Bell Helicopter ARH-70 armed reconnaissance helicopter deal last October, army officials are analysing alternatives for replacing the Bell OH-58 Kiowa scout.
The service launched the analysis after issuing basic requirements for an armed scout helicopter in November, only to find industry unable to meet them at the time.
Army officials have said they do not anticipate launching a new acquisition programme until the analysis is complete late next year, but the helicopter industry has continued to make unsolicited overtures based on adapting aircraft already in its inventory. Boeing is offering the AH-6S Phoenix, a slightly enlarged version of the single-engined AH-6M mission enhanced Little Bird flown by the US Special Operations Command.
EADS is already supplying 322 UH-72s to the army for non-battlefield support rules, including the national guard's homeland security and civil support missions. The twin-engined helicopter, based on the Eurocopter EC145, is being assembled at an American Eurocopter factory in Colombus, Mississippi.
EADS says the factory's output can grow immediately from 40 a year today to 60, and surge to up to 105 helicopters annually in two years.