June 04, 2013
Credit: U.S. Army
EADS North America has withdrawn its proposal for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) advanced-rotorcraft technology demonstration, to focus company resources on its offering for the service’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) requirement.
CEO Sean O’Keefe informed Assistant Secretary of the Army Heidi Shyu of the decision in a letter sent May 29, just a day or two before the Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate invited at least some of the JMR bidders to enter negotiations to build and fly demonstrators in 2017.
A Sikorsky-Boeing team confirms it has been invited to negotiate a cost-sharing technology investment agreement (TIA) for a 230-kt. coaxial-rotor compound-helicopter demonstrator.
Industry sources say AVX Aircraft also has been invited to negotiate a TIA for a 230-kt. coaxial-rotor/ducted-fan compound helicopter. The company declines to comment.
EADS had earlier confirmed it submitted a proposal for the JMR Phase 1 air-vehicle demonstration, but not revealed the configuration – widely expected to be based on its X3 high-speed hybrid helicopter.
In the letter to Shyu, O’Keefe said EADS North America had “painstakingly reviewed our resource needs… [and] determined that the Army’s most urgent need and our most significant investment to date is for a competitive AAS platform.”
EADS is proposing the AAS-72X/X+ for AAS, while also lobbying to reverse the Army’s fiscal 2014 budget decision to prematurely terminate procurement of the U.S.-assembled UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter on which the armed scout would be based.
JMR is a precursor to the Army’s planned Future Vertical Lift (FVL) family of rotorcraft that would replace initially the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, then the Boeing AH-64 Apache, but eventually everything from the light Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior to the heavy Boeing CH-47 Chinook.
“The Army’s concept development plan for JMR to replace AAS with an aircraft that meets the needs of the force currently met by the OH-58, AH-64 Apache Block III, UH-60M and CH-47F/G appears to be very long term and an open-ended industry resource commitment,” O’Keefe says in the letter.