The US Army has launched the first major review of its aviation needs since the previous study led to canceling the Sikorsky/Boeing RAH-66 Comanche.
Lt Gen James Thurman, the army’s deputy chief of staff, says the “Aviation Study-2” will consider the results from the sweeping modernization programmes launched with the Comanche’s $14.6 billion budget.
“The group will review Aviation 1 study’s finding and recommendations,” said Thurman, addressing the annual convention of the Army Aviation Association of America in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Those areas that have been successful will be honed and retained,” he said. “Areas that have not been fully executed will be revisited to see if they can be executed and developed, and, if required, cancelled.”
The Aviation 1 study recommended canceling the Comanche and re-investing the funds into several modernization programmes.
Some of those programmes, such as the Boeing AH-64D Apache Block III, EADS North America UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopter and Boeing CH-47F Chinook, are already underway.
But others have not come to fruition. In October, the army canceled the $6 billion contract for the Bell Helicopter ARH-70 armed reconnaissance helicopter. The re-competition remains on hold while the army conducts an at least 18-month analysis of alternatives. The army’s control of the Joint Cargo Aircraft, involving the L-3 Communications/Alenia C-27J, is also reportedly being shifted to the US Air Force.
Thurman said the second aviation study, to be led by army aviation branch chief Maj Gen James O. Barclay, is also tasked with recommending new initiatives or requirements.
The study will consider army aviation needs across 12 focus areas, including current operations, training, homeland defense and force structure.