The US Army is seeking voluntary flight demonstrations of the existing advanced rotary-wing aircraft and their subsystems as part of its potential acquisition of an Armed Aerial Scout (ASS) aircraft to replace the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
The US Army Armed Scout Helicopter (ASH) Program Management Office (PMO) has issued a request for information (RFI) to industry partners to provide performance capabilities and technical data on a range of aircraft.
US Army Aviation Center of Excellence Capability Development and Integration Directorate director Ellis Golsen said the demonstrations would allow the army to validate the data in the analysis of alternatives (AOA) and provides a better idea of what is achievable within the budget constraints.
More than 300 ageing Kiowa Warriors are currently performing ASS missions for the army, but are unable to meet the needs of commanders in terms of speed, range and endurance.
According to the military, the helicopter lacks performance margin for operation in high and hot environments and is prone to lethal attacks because of limitations in the weapons payload capacity.
"The Kiowa Warrior, in its current form, is still the basic airframe of an OH-58A/C that we flew in Vietnam," Golsen added.
"We have continued to modify it and address it. But the airframe itself and the environments we fly in now and the ones we look to in the future are going to require greater performance."
The RFI also revealed that the expected AAS mission capabilities will include conducting reconnaissance and security operations, close combat attack, mobile strike and vertical manoeuvres.
Information obtained from interested companies will be used to assess the current state of technology and capability of the aircraft in addressing the shortfalls in the current OH-58D fleet, while providing enhanced performance.
The US Army has not provided any preferred timeframe; however, it expects to complete the demonstrations by the end of this year.
Image: Two US Army Kiowa Warrior helicopters conducting aerial reconnaissance missions in southern Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of US Army.