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Friday, November 9, 2007

U.S. Army: FLIR Won’t Fly on Most ARH-70As

Jim McKenna

The U.S. Army will replace FLIR Systems' targeting and acquisition sensor for the ARH-70A Arapaho with a new, Raytheon-developed unit on most of the full-rate production aircraft. That from the Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program office by way of explaining an $800 million Army contract to Raytheon unveiled Nov. 7 for a common sensor for the Arapaho and the Extended-Range, Multi-Purpose fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle. The change would appear to be a blow to FLIR Systems, which was banking on the Bell Helicopter-led ARH-70A program to cement its reputation for being able to support large-scale defense aviation programs. The Army has talked of acquiring as many as 588 Arapahos to replace war-weary Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and expand its ARH capabilities. In response to a question from Rotor & Wing, the ARH program office said, "The current plan is to integrate the common sensor on our aircraft starting no earlier than ARH's first full-rate production lot.  We'll continue to use the FLIR sensor until that time."
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