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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

EADS Enhances Lakota for AAS Bid

By Andrew Parker, Editor-in-Chief

EADS North America introduced a boosted version of its Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) offering for the U.S. Army on Monday during Quad-A in Nashville. Dubbed the AAS-72X+, the helicopter is a derivative of the AAS-72X Lakota light utility helicopter, and is based on the commercial EC145T2. Plans call for 72X+ production to take place at Eurocopter’s facility in Columbus, Miss., starting as early as 2016, pending the Army’s selection from a number of manufacturers.

Image courtesy EADS North America

David Haines, vice president of rotorcraft programs, noted that the EADS North America has delivered 210 Lakotas through early April. “Over the past three-and-a-half years, our company with industry partners have invested millions of our own R&D funds to develop, integrate, test and fly three technical demonstration aircraft,” he said. “This proves out our proposed solution for the Army’s Armed Aerial Scout requirement.”

With a baseline Lakota, EADS has shown “that we can meet the 6K/95, high/hot, hover out of ground effect with the needed endurance and range, coupled with a 2,500-lb payload,” Haines continued. “The Army has a number of AAS choices in this tough fiscal environment. This is our latest evolution of an armed UH-72A Lakota,” he said, while curtains dropped to introduce the AAS-72X+ to a crowd gathered at the EADS booth.

“The most notable external difference is the Fenestron anti-torque [tail rotor] system,” said Gary Bishop, vice president and program manager of the AAS-72X. He added that the 72X+ also features more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2D engines, an enhanced transmission, a Helionix cockpit and a four-axis autopilot system.

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