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AVX Aircraft, the small Fort Worth-based company staffed mainly with former Bell Helicopter employees, has received another boost. A month or so ago it won an Army contract to compete against the big boys -- Bell Boeing, Boeing and Sikorsky -- to study concepts for the US Army's planned Joint Multi Role medium utility rotorcraft.Now BAE Systems says it has teamed with AVX to bid for the US Navy's Medium-Range Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System (MRMUAS) -- an extended-endurance, multi-intelligence VTOL shipboard UAS planned for fielding in 2019. MRMUAS could also be the basis for the Army's planned Medium-Range Multi-Purpose UAS, if it becomes a joint program.Photo: AVXAVX's signature technology is the combination of coaxial rotors and ducted fans, for improved hover and forward-flight performance. The company continues to push the idea of upgrading the Army's Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors while it tries to raise the funding to build a technology demonstrator based on a commercial Bell 206.For MRMUAS, the AVX-designed air vehicle would be integrated with BAE's autonomous mission systems and payloads. Other bidders are expected to include the Boeing A160 or Unmanned Little Bird, Northrop Grumman Fire-X (based on the Bell 407) and, from Sikorsky, either a new X2-based design or an optionally manned MH-60 Seahawk. BAE says it concluded a modified commercial or military helicopter wouldn't meet the Navy's requirements.
ar99, unmanned, rotorcraft
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