After months of anticipation, the U.S. Army has released a new request for information (RFI) seeking updated industry input “on commercial, commercial-modified, military, conceptual air vehicle technologies, performance capabilities and technical data” in support of the potential acquisition of an Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) helicopter.
The purpose of the new RFI is “to facilitate market research on the state of technology (e.g. technology maturity levels and availability) and related costs which could be incorporated into a potential Armed Aerial Scout materiel solution. The AAS Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) identified existing capability gaps in the armed reconnaissance fleet that must be mitigated by an affordable moderate-risk material solution option.”
Specific capability gaps identified in the current OH-58D fleet include:
- responsiveness in terms of speed, range and endurance;
- performance margin to operate in “hot and high” environments, and;
- lethality due to limitations in weapons payload capacity.
“The information provided by industry will be used to assess the current state of technology and whether the technology can mitigate the capability gaps (i.e. greater than OH-58D performance) yet still provide an affordable, achievable, moderate risk acquisition program by trading full objective 6K/95 performance [performance at 6,000 feet or above on a 95 degree day],” the announcement reads. “The results of the assessment will be used to define and recommend a potential materiel solution option for the Defense Acquisition Board that results in an affordable moderate risk acquisition strategy with achievable capabilities.”
The latest release supplements earlier announcements, including the Armed Aerial Scout Helicopter Request for Information dated Jan. 26, 2010 and the subsequent Sources Sought announcement dated Dec. 10, 2010.
Acknowledging that “requirements development for the AAS has continued” since the issuance of those earlier documents, the latest release identifies U.S. government interest “in obtaining up to date information on current and planned technologies, air vehicle capabilities and costs which are or could enhance existing or planned technical data and air vehicle performance capabilities.”
Identifying an average procurement unit cost (APUC) of between $13 million and $15 million (in FY ’12 dollars), the RFI notes that industry responses could change the APUC “contingent on final requirements and acquisition strategy.”
In addition to providing specifics on technology and air vehicle performance, the U.S. Army Armed Scout Helicopter Program Management Office is seeking to ascertain industry interest “in participating in a voluntary flight demonstration of their existing air technologies to display the state of the art in regard to helicopter systems and subsystem(s) technologies.”
It is anticipated that the voluntary demonstration will begin in the summer of 2012 somewhere in the continental United States, with the government expected to assign two-week block intervals “in which to conduct voluntary flight demonstrations per interested respondent.”