AgustaWestland has unveiled a proposed military development of its 4.5t-class AW169 multipurpose twin-engined utility helicopter to meet the US Army's prospective Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) requirement.
Unveiling a full-scale mock-up of the aircraft at the Army Aviation Association of America exposition in Fort Worth, Texas, the company said the design is "uniquely adaptable to support all AAS mission requirements cost effectively".
With a glass cockpit featuring three large-panel multifunction displays and full mission and weapon systems architectures, the AW169 AAS will be able to hover at 6,000ft (1,830m) above ground level in 35˚C (95˚F) ambient temperature, says Paul Elliott, vice-president, army business development for AgustaWestland North America. The type will also have targeting sensors installed in its nose and a network-centric communication suite, he adds.
Noting that the AW169 was conceived with paramilitary and military-oriented features, Elliott says its fuselage dimensions and ability to transport up to 10 passengers, in addition to two pilots, represent a potential "force multiplier" for the army.
Mission persistence could be extended by adding internal auxiliary fuel tanks, while the type could also carry weapon systems and provide command and control capabilities for the teaming of manned and unmanned systems, he says.
AgustaWestland says the AW169 should achieve basic certification in 2014, with one of its four prototypes based in the USA to fulfil Federal Aviation Administration requirements.
"In parallel, we will continue to mature the military configuration to satisfy the foreseen requirements of the US Army, such as infrared suppressors for the engines, in order to be ready for the AAS programme launch," Elliott says.