An EADS North America/Lockheed Martin team may propose in the third quarter to offer an AS645 scout helicopter with the US Army's required "high-hot" performance and a technical path leading to the required endurance.

The AS645 team is working now to demonstrate the helicopter's latent ability to hover at 35°C (95°F) and 6,000ft (1,839m) with a 1,045kg (2,300lb) payload, says Ralph Crosby, chief executive of EADS North America.

That would fulfil a previously stated army requirement for replacing the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior with a new helicopter that can operate effectively in conditions such as those found in Afghanistan, Crosby says.

Last year, the army also demanded that its OH-58 replacement must fly for at least 2h 40min under such conditions.

If the AS645 is required to meet the army's high-hot specification, its range is limited to about 1h short of the army's standard, Crosby says.

But EADS intends to propose a timeline for achieving the army's required endurance by upgrading the AS645's capability over a certain time, Crosby says. Based on internal analysis, the AS645 team is confident it can achieve the army's endurance requirement without making structural changes, such as "cabin plug" to increase fuel volume, Crosby says.

The AS645 proposal strategy is focused on offering the army a near-term solution for starting to replace the ageing OH-58 fleet, Crosby says.

The army is currently performing an analysis of alternatives to define its requirements for the OH-58 replacement, having postponed a planned acquisition by at least 18 months.

Last October, the army cancelled the armed reconnaissance helicopter contract with Bell Helicopter to supply the ARH-70 Arapaho, which is based on the Bell 407.

In 2006, the army selected EADS to supply the civil-use UH-72, which is a Eurocopter EC145. Last month, EADS and Lockheed teamed up to offer an armed variant designated the AS645.

Source: Flight Daily News