EADS North America (NA) today announced signing Lockheed Martin as the weapons systems integrator for a newly-revealed Armed Scout 645 helicopter, a new contender for a major US Army contract.

The Armed Scout 645 would integrate a weapons and targeting system on the Eurocopter EC145 airframe already sold to the army as the UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopter (LUH).

The army’s two-decade-old search to replace the Bell Helicopter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior was re-opened last year. The army terminated a contract with Bell to supply 522 ARH-70 Arapahos after development costs tripled.

 AS645 main
 ©EADS North America

The cancellation has already prompted Boeing to offer the single-engine AH-6S Phoenix or a new version of AH-64 Apache gunship for the army’s armed scout requirement.

The EADS NA/Lockheed team unveiled the twin-engine Armed Scout 645 at the Army Aviation Association of America’s 2009 annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

In November, the army released a “sources sought” notice for a scout helicopter that could operate at 1,828m (6,000ft) at 35ºC (95ºF) with a full weapons load-out and enough fuel to meet a 3hr-flight requirement, including a 15min fuel reserve.

“We’re confident that our team has a low-risk technical path to meet or exceed the performance requirements the army outlined in the sources sought document,” said David R. Oliver Jr., EADS NA’s chief operating officer, in a statement.

However, the army has put the acquisition on hold at least 18 months to conduct an analysis of alternatives, said Col Keith Robinson, programme manager for armed scout helicopters, addressing the International Military Helicopter Conference in London on 27 April.

The study will consider a broad range of options, including a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft.

Although based on the same airframe as the UH-72, the EADS/Lockheed Armed Scout 645 would still be a significant departure. Unlike the FAA-certified UH-72, the scout version will be required to comply with heightened army combat standards such as crash survivability and ballistic protection.

Lockheed’s role in the partnership is led by the Orlando-based Missiles and Fire Control unit, which is also a supplier for the army’s Longbow Apache fire control system and modernized target acquisition designation sight/pilot night vision sensor (Arrowhead) (MTADS/PNVS) system.

Source: FlightGlobal.com