EADS North America is positioning a militarized version of the Eurocopter EC145 to compete for the U.S. Army future armed reconnaissance helicopter, when such program is announced. The yet-to-be-built ‘645 is likely to compete with the Boeing AH-6S ‘Phoenix’ scout which lost the previous ARH competition and the Bell 407 that was selected for the ARH but failed to complete development. Similar models of all three helicopters are already in active service with different Army units. EADS has established an industry team comprised of Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] and American Eurocopter that will offer a new armed scout helicopter to be based on the UH-72A Lakota. The new helicopter will be designated Armed Scout 645. EADS North America unveiled the armed Scout helicopter in a full-scale model at the U.S. Army Aviation Association of America’s 2009 Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn. The Armed Scout 645 will be produced at American Eurocopter’s Columbus, Miss., facility where UH-72A Lakotas are currently manufactured.
EADS highlights the Armed Scout 645 attributes considered essential for the new mission, including the powerful twin-engine design providing high performance and additional survivability, particularly in the demanding high/hot operating environments called for by today’s Army requirements. The helicopter utilizes a modular weapons systems architecture to ensure low lifecycle costs, maintainability and maximum operational reliability, resulting in high operational readiness rates to meet changing Army mission requirements over time. Its small footprint allows transportation by C-17 aircraft with minimum reconfiguration upon arrival in the operating area. The helicopter’s large, unobstructed main cabin is easily reconfigurable for maximum mission flexibility.
The helicopter will maintain a high degree of commonality with the UH-72A Lakota currently in service. 128 Lakotas have been ordered by the Army, 67 have already been delivered. The U.S. military services are planning to acquire a total of 345 UH-72As through 2016.