has withdrawn its proposal for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) advanced-rotorcraft technology demonstration, to focus company resources on its offering for the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- 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.
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.-assembledlight 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 theBlack Hawk, then the Boeing AH-64 Apache, but eventually everything from the light Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior to the heavy 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.
Recent statements by Army leadership suggest the service, struggling with budget cuts, is backing away from plans to buy an off-the-shelf replacement for the OH-58D and will instead make a decision between extending the Kiowa Warrior’s service life and starting a new-development AAS program.
EADS has invested heavily in company-funded development of the AAS-72X/X+, which is derived from the commercialEC145, and is finalizing a cooperative research and development agreement to conduct weapons testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground to support its AAS proposal.
Citing the fiscal constraints caused by sequestration and budget instability, O’Keefe said EADS’s “plan is to focus our resources along with our world-class team mates on the AAS competition. As such we will withdraw from further consideration for the JMR/FVL concept development effort.”