I'm sorry I missed this thread when it started. There was an article in Army Aviation (official publication of the Army Aviation Association of America - AAAA) 31 March that dealt specifically with this new aircraft. If you don't mind, I'll hit some highlights since I'd have to type the whole thing otherwise.
The article was written by LTC Thurgood, Product Manager for the Armed Recon Helicopter Program, PEO Aviation, Redstone Arsenal, AL
- After Comanche was cancelled, the Army Chief of Staff identified a need for 368 armed recon helicopters (ARH).
- This helicopter was needed now to fill identified armed recon gaps and to replace the OH
-58D, in service since May 1991.
- The ARH project office was established with 3 goals: 1) provide a low-cost platform, 2) field first unit equipped (FUE
) organizations in FY08, and 3) ensure the new platform has growth potential for new capabilities.
- The USAAVNC (US Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, AL
) prioritized the material solutions and recommended that fulfillment of the ARH should be through modification of an existing helicopter platform. The ARH platform is thusly defined as a modified commercial off the shelf (COTS) product integrated with non-developmental mission equipment packages (MEP). (In other words, an existing helicopter that the Army doesn't have to spend a lot of money on to test.)
- What is the ARH? It is a relatively inexpensive armed aerial platform that will replace the OH
-58D and will provide interoperability with joint fires (Field artillery, mortars, etc.) and manned or unmanned aviation platforms.
- It will be capable of operating worldwide in VFR and IFR flight. (IIRC, the OH
-58D is not capable of precision approach capabilities outside of PARs. With this in mind, the ARH will have the capabilities of using civilian and military precision approach landing structures - ILS/VOR/TACAN.)
- It will be dual-crew station, single pilot aircraft with all systems operable from either side. It will be capable of cruise airspeeds of at least 100 knots true (at 4000 feet and 95-degrees F) in standard configuration.
- The standard configuration is sensor assembly, active and passive countermeasures, 2 x fully loaded 7-shot rocket pods, and crew station armor.
- It will have a slewable target acquisition sensor suite (TASS) that can be controlled from both pilot stations. The TASS will have the following: infrared imaging sensor, color TV
, laser rangefinder and designator, laser spot tracker, and laser pointer.
- It will have an advanced communications package - secure and unsecure.
- The final request for proposals went out December 8, 2004. Proposals were due in by February 7, 2005. The Defense Acquisition Board was scheduled to meet late June 2005 and final approval was expected by end of July.