EADS North America this week is conducting flight demonstrations of its company-funded Armed Aerial Scout 72X (AAS-72X) helicopter at the Nashville International Airport this week to coincide with a nearby military aviation exposition.
The company, and its industry team of American Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), have made a significant investment in the development of three AAS-72X Technical Demonstrator Aircraft (TDA), which are being used to conduct parallel development and risk reduction activities, and to demonstrate the aircraft’s increasing level of capability and technical maturity. The AAS-72X is based on the highly successful EC145 commercial helicopter platform.
The AAS-72X demonstration aircraft is equipped with a Mission Equipment Package (MEP) that includes a chin-mounted turret with integrated targeting sensor, manned-unmanned teaming capability, communications suite and weapons.
“EADS North America and its Armed Scout team has achieved every milestone we’ve set in developing a highly capable helicopter that will meet the Army’s armed aerial scout mission,” said EADS North America CEO Sean O’Keefe. “Bringing one of our three technical demonstrator aircraft to Nashville enables Army leadership and aviators to see and experience these accomplishments first-hand.”
The Technical Demonstrator Aircraft made its first flight in December 2010, and is being used to validate the AAS-72X’s ability to meet the U.S. Army’s current armed aerial scout mission requirements.
Prior to first flight of the TDA helicopter, the company conducted high/hot hover-out-of-ground-effect, endurance and payload testing in 2009 at Alamosa, Colo., successfully operating at 6,000 feet and 95-degree density altitude. The team also conducted a key transportability test when five militarized EC145 aircraft were successfully loaded in a C-17 transport aircraft. Additionally, EADS North America and Lockheed Martin established a System Integration Laboratory (SIL) and hangar in April 2010 at Lockheed Martin’s Orlando, Fla. facility.
“Having a fully-capable laboratory enables high fidelity integration and testing and results in the lowest-risk MEP solution for the AAS-72X,” said Bob Gunning, vice president of
Fire Control at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “We have made significant investments to ensure our state-of-the-art MEP provides a best value, superior solution to meet the warfighters’ armed scout mission requirements.”
A highly capable helicopter for the Armed Aerial Scout mission, the AAS-72X combines twin-engine safety with the high/hot operating performance critical to the Army’s Armed Scout mission. The AAS-72X is derived from the same family of aircraft as the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter. The result is a low-risk evolution of the U.S. Army’s newest rotary-wing aircraft, which is widely considered one of the most successful acquisition programs in the service’s history.
Production of the AAS-72X will take place at American Eurocopter’s Columbus, Miss. helicopter center of excellence where the UH-72A Lakota is currently assembled for the U.S. Army. EADS North America has delivered more than 160 UH-72A Lakotas to the U.S. Army on time and within budget, along with five H-72A versions to the U.S. Navy for test pilot training.