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Friday, February 1, 2013

Feedback February 2013

Fair and Balanced?

I am extremely concerned with Rotor & Wing’s December 2012 “Military Insider” column by Andrew Drwiega regarding the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) program which was surprisingly one-sided, laden with inaccuracies, and failed to reflect Rotor & Wing’s high standards of accuracy and journalistic integrity. In fact, the entire piece was predicated on the observations of a person identified as a paid “advisor” to one of the companies pursuing the next generation AAS.

Readers who expect fair and balanced reporting will appreciate the facts: the incumbent Kiowa Warrior has served the Army for decades and, in doing so, has earned an impressive reputation and a loyal following. The most requested Close Air Support platform in Army Aviation, the Kiowa Warrior has logged more than 800,000 combat hours, and achieved the highest OPTEMPO, readiness and mission-capable rates of any Army aircraft operating in Iraq or Afghanistan. Importantly, the Kiowa Warrior is well-integrated into Army supply chains, training programs, and personnel systems.

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Readers of the Military Insider column might never know that in October 2012, Rotor & Wing reported that the upgraded OH-58F Kiowa Warrior has “a more powerful engine with an enhanced tail rotor designed to meet hot and high requirements at 6,000 feet and 95 degrees,” and that the OH-58 Block II aircraft “will cost less than upgrading to another design, and will integrate into the Army’s existing supply chains to save additional money for spares inventory, as well as with training and personnel.”

In fact, the block upgrade strategy for the OH-58—which has successfully demonstrated 6K/95 performance—is estimated to be some $10 billion less expensive than other options currently under consideration. The Army conducted the Voluntary Flight Demonstration and supporting data collection to make an informed decision based on facts and proven performance. Rotor & Wing has failed—in this case—to support a fair and balanced discussion of the alternatives.

Robert Hastings, Senior Vice President
Communications & Government Affairs
Bell Helicopter

Matter of Opinion

In answer the letter from Mr. Hastings, there are a number of issues to address. Firstly, Military Insider is a personal commentary column designed to present points of view and opinions in a way that regular features do not. As is pointed out in the letter, Rotor & Wing has on previous occasions praised the contribution that OH-58 has made to the U.S. military during its long and valuable service life.

Although the article was said to be “laden with inaccuracies,” no specific examples are mentioned.

With reference to coverage of Bell Helicopter’s involvement in the U.S. Army’s Voluntary Flight Demonstration exercise, Bell’s participation was included in a feature written by another author in the same issue (Army Completes VFD Phase of AAS Program, pages 22 to 25).

Finally, I see no distinction between including the comments of a “paid” advisor to EADS North America, against statements made daily by those marketing directors and the like for Bell Helicopter, EADS North America or any other OEM (all paid representatives).

The reason that his comments were so valid was because as a 28-year Army veteran who has flown the OH-58D, been a Chief of Staff and commanded an Aviation Brigade in combat, he was ideally placed to offer an opinion on this important subject.

His affiliation was clearly stated in the article so that readers could put his personal comments into context, something that the professional readership of Rotor & Wing is able to do as a matter of course.

Andrew Drwiega
Military Insider columnist
Rotor & Wing

 

Corrections & Clarifications

In the December 2012 Training News section on page 42, retired Lt. Glenn Daley was identified as a current member of NYPD. In addition, remarks about a water impulse cannon were incorrectly attributed to Daley.

The last name of Elbit Systems of America CEO Raanan Horowitz was misspelled in the “Coming Up” section on the January issue on page 53.

A subcategory in Military Insider on page 50 of the December 2012 issue that was mistakenly labeled “R&D” should have read “Airframes.”

We sincerely regret the errors.

 

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