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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: U.S. Army Aviation Chief Challenges "War Footing"

MILITARY

Another curious pronouncement was the U.S. Army’s assertion that the rotorcraft industry is not acting as if the nation were at war. The director of Army aviation, Brig. Gen. Stephen Mundt, told a Pentagon press briefing March 23 — following his testimony before Congress and the ARH stop-work order: "While the military may be on a war footing, our nation’s industry is not on a war footing."

The specific complaint? The Army is just now getting replacements for more than 130 helicopters lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, two years after it started ordering them. Given that manufacturers have been producing military helicopters under other contracts, developing new variants, and vying with everyone else in aerospace for critical raw materials, 24 months doesn’t seem a long lead time. If the Army had funded quick-response war-replacement production lines and made it a national priority to supply them, industry undoubtedly could deliver aircraft faster. But the Army hasn’t done that yet.

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