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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Department of Defense Will Not Certify ARH

MILITARY

On Oct. 16, 2008, the Department of Defense officially notified Congress and aircraft manufacturer Bell Helicopter, that it will not certify the Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program for continuation. John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, in consultation with top DoD officials, determined that the contract to build the military variant of the Bell 407 as a replacement for the aging OH-58 Kiowa Warrior fleet was no longer valid, based upon projected cost and delivery time overruns.

The $2.2-billion contract was awarded to Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc, in July of 2005. It called for the company to build 368 of the armed, light turbine aircraft and deliver them between 2006 and 2009. But as the months passed, the agreed upon development costs ballooned from $359 million to $942 million, procurement costs per unit jumped from $8.56 million to $14.48 million, and delivery estimates were extended into 2013.

None of the ARH helicopters were delivered to the Army.

In a statement released by the Pentagon, Young said, "Rather than continue this program, I have decided that the best course of action is to provide the Army with an opportunity to define a coherent, disciplined Kiowa Warrior helicopter replacement program, and to obtain more rigorous contract terms for its development."

As part of the same news release, Secretary of the Army Pete Green said, "We have a duty to the Army and the taxpayer to move ahead with an alternative course of action to meet this critical capability for our soldiers at the best price as soon as possible."

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