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US Army leaning towards new scout

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US Army leaning towards new scout

Old 16th May 2013, 18:26
  #61 (permalink)  
 
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The " If " Word

Sans, I wrote: " I used the "Uh-oh " title because for one, the above quote underscores the predicament facing the other competitors if the mission assessment weights speed heavily."

I added emphasis on the "if" word, because as others have also recognized, there is no telling how the speed advantage of the S=97 will be weighted*.

Allow me to add the " if" word to the $15M price tag too. One option available to SA would be to just import the new OH-58 "system" into the production version and save the time/expense of doing something new that is unneeded. An uneducated guess is that the SA quote had something like that in mind. An option open to the Army ( and we taxpayers ) is to say to SA: "Sold at $15M, Fixed Price Contract". Where I am going here is that it might be a bad assumption for competitors to assume that the $15M figure doesn't represent some pencil work in Ct.

* Haven't read everything available on the subject, but has the Army mentioned going to a competitive fly-off for this replacement program? Reason for asking is that the payoff for having done that for the UH-1 replacement program ( UTTAS ) was huge. It also made the real differences between the SA and Boeing machines crystal clear. So, if there is a fly-off and the S-97 gets to be a finalist and is a candidate, the Army will ( if they construct the fly-off as they did the UTTAS ) determine for themselves the answer to that question, for that mission.
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Old 16th May 2013, 19:03
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The "competitive" (though voluntary) fly-off already occured last year, much to SAC's chagrin as the S-97 was not ready.
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Old 16th May 2013, 20:16
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A Prelim?

Perhaps now that the Army has put the program on hold, when they " unhold it " and realize that the capability of the candidate pool has broadened, another fly-off will be held.

Please enlighten re the voluntary fly-off. Was it an engineering and service evaluation in parallel? Against a published Material Need Document or a spec within an RFP? How many vehicles per contractor? How many Army pilots involved? Aircraft put in the field for the service eval? Just trying to get a feel for how thorough the Army was at this point? Curious about the " voluntary " part of it, as the word makes it sound somewhat casual.
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Old 16th May 2013, 20:35
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Not that the Army has never played games with availability rates.....Chinooks at Hanchey Army Airfield when I was there could be considered "Flyable" even if one engine was removed from the Aircraft....not that anyone would fly them that way but hell....they could take off on one Donk right!
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Old 16th May 2013, 21:09
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av8r, thanks, 90% MC rate. Got it. I am somewhat familiar with what goes into such metrics. Still a good readiness rate.

(Sans, your "95%" got my red flag up, again, due to being somewhat familiar with what goes into the declaration of such readiness rates).
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Old 20th May 2013, 18:14
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While reading a few defense articles, I noted that in the 9.6 billion reprogram request the DoD is making to Congress (shift funds around) I noted something related to this thread:

$115 million cut to Boeing Co. (BA)s AH-64 Apache helicopter upgrade.

There were boosts to Afghanistan funding and JSF software, and other stuff, but the above strikes me as a substantial chunk of cash potentially pulled from an Army Aviation program.

Question that comes to mind: is the decision to cut (how far into the program is the Army, anyway, on the upgrade to the D? ) these funds informed by a longer tem decision to put more money into scouting and recon and less into marginal returns on strike/attack capability?

Maybe, and maybe not. May just be a temp delay to the upgrade.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 20th May 2013 at 18:59.
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Old 6th Dec 2013, 21:10
  #67 (permalink)  
 
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And the winner is...[drum roll]...the Apache.

Army Aviation plan would divest Kiowas, move Guard Apaches to scout role
Inside the Army Thursday, December 05, 2013

A proposed restructure of the Army's aviation fleets, shaped to deal with a dismal fiscal outlook and inevitable force reductions, includes the divestiture of the entire OH-58 Kiowa Warrior fleet and a plan to use AH-64 Apache helicopters -- mostly taken from the National Guard -- to meet its armed aerial scout mission, according to Army officials.
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Old 6th Dec 2013, 22:44
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IC

The Apache is not a scout. In the scout role it is a $20M+ target that a spear wielder can take down when doing a low and slow with a need for agility. The Kiowa has the best operational/mission capable readiness rate of all Army helicopters. I attended a Kiowa operations test where 6 Apaches were required to support 4 Kiowas. The Apache requirement for each mission was only 2. Kiowas required all 4. It was unbelievable to see the amount of civilian system techs to get those two launched.

The Apache is not know as the Ramp Rock for nothing.

The Sultan
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Old 7th Dec 2013, 17:44
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Aside from the frustrations of suggesting that an Apache can do my job... how could anyone use the "Budget Crisis" as a reason to mothball the Kiowa fleet. we are the cheapest to operate, highest hour per airframe, lowest funded aircraft in the army. getting rid of OH-58D's and using an AH-64 in our place for fiscal reasons, would be on the verge of fraud. departing soapbox...
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Old 7th Dec 2013, 20:38
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John Dixon wrote:

If that proves true, then SA will then be left with a machine sized/priced for the international scout market, whatever that may be, but a significant bit too small to enter the S-76/AW-139 market.
'International' is what its all about. Can the USA afford to let foreign (Russian? Chinese? Indian?) competitors design and perfect new designs whilst its own manufacturers keep rehashing the 1960s designs, however good they are?

A modern technology airframe, perhaps with limited system capability, out there in the field, earning export dollars and building up hours, would allow a breathing space for the advanced systems destined for US Army machines to be perfected, until Uncle Sam can afford to buy it.

You only need to look at the British motorcycle industry in the 1960s and the US automobile industry in the 1970s, to see what happens if you rest on your laurels.

The real question isn't whether the USA can afford to put 21st Century technology helicopters into production, but can it afford not to?
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Old 9th Dec 2013, 20:13
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Oh, Comanche, too bad you died on the vine ...

Had the Army been able to get Comanche into the field, I think this question would be moot, and both KW and Apache would be phased out to be replaced by a single TMS. But that's speculation that we could never prove ... too bad.

Deployability: I seem to recall that you can fit a lot more KW's into a C-17 than you can Apaches if you are trying to return to "CONUS based and deployable anywhere" as your force structure model. Granted, POMCUS and pre-positioned material also fit into that mix ... not sure how aviation heavy such postures are. Been too many years since I was in that side of things.

This raises the question: what's the Army think that it's next 10-20 years of operational environment is going to look like?
ROC/POE is written based on a best estimation of the expected operational environment.

Last point: more drones, maybe more unarmed scouting, hold the "punch" until you need it, and use a variety of fires (airborne, land based) to take care of targets as suitable to the RoE.
I hear rumor that Army is going for armed UAV's now ... maybe something like Predator or Reaper? If so, that sounds like a bun fight in the making with the USAF over roles and missions ...
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Old 10th Dec 2013, 02:54
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UAV's have a role in todays mission, in places that humans can't operate (Chemical, SAM, Ect...). Unfortunately, UAV operators are not currently trained in scouting, nor capable of filling the recon role that manned aircraft fulfill. they also operate at altitudes that do not allow for proper reconnaissance. having 4 living, breathing, eyeballs per cockpit, who have a vested interest in mission completion, and have the best interests of the infantryman on the ground cannot be overlooked. UAV's share a part in todays Role on the battlefield. but they are not the fix. the OH-58D fleet doesn't ask for much, and has operated better than everyone else with FAR less, for a decade... our fleet can operate Higher/ Hotter than most other Pilots/ Airframes because we are forced to operate in limited power, and marginal performance even at sea level. we dont have autopilot, SAS, FMS... we have to fly it ourselves to stay alive, and our mission means, when bullets fly, we are expected to take that stepchild of an aircraft and run towards the sound of bullets. i have full faith in the airframe, it is economical to operate, reliable to fly and maintain, and capable beyond its expected lifespan. I have heard rumor that 1 apache cost more than the annual Upgrade/ modification budget of the OH-58D Fleet... i will end my rant on that note!
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Old 10th Dec 2013, 03:18
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The real question isn't whether the USA can afford to put 21st Century technology helicopters into production, but can it afford not to?

Have we ever entered a War fully prepared and ready to go with State of the Art Equipment all the way round....fully staffed, trained, and ready to go?

We can look at every War....pick one....and we can show examples of what was missing as we just cannot bring ourselves to spend the money we need on the right systems, aircraft, ships, and the like.

When we go up against the Chinese....we better have our Ducks in a Row or they will eat our lunch. At some point technology alone cannot win the day....it will take numbers.

Now anyone want to guess when the Lakota's show up in Combat....knowing the promise is they never would?
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Old 10th Dec 2013, 04:51
  #74 (permalink)  
 
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Hedging their bets and playing an acquisition game Id say.

With the Kiowa gone, so goes any opportunity to upgrade (I know its a little unpalatable for some on this thread to accept, but a revamped Jet Ranger is not what the US Army wants going forward) and no, it's not a Lakota either.

As will be evident, the Apache has its role, but availability rates and cost of operation will force the decision to urgently identify a replacement platform to fill the void left by the Kiowa, so the DoD prioritises a replacement program and the Army gets its new AAS.

Simples!
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Old 10th Dec 2013, 13:55
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A very expensive and heavy scout , for sure in the AH-64A/D/E airframe.

However a couple of things come to mind, what have other countries such as Australia and Japan done in the last decade or so? The Tiger being a dedicated AH has taken over the recon / observation role of the Bell 206B Kiowa in the former while the two seat OH-1 in. JGSDF has replaced the OH-6J (I'm not counting the AH-64J slowly replacing the AH-1J) ....

Must confess, haven't read into the plans of replacing the Kiowa fleet but wonder if Boeing will tailor / modify the Apache / Longbow airframe to the scout role, make it lighter, more nimble, agile, flexible platform, perhaps ( and no I wasn't talking about removing the Hellfires)

Cheers
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Old 10th Dec 2013, 14:47
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Originally Posted by army_av8r View Post
UAV's have a role in todays mission, in places that humans can't operate (Chemical, SAM, Ect...).
More than that, which I suspect you are aware of. There are a variety of small, medium, and large UAV's, each with a place in the field commander's kit bag.
Unfortunately, UAV operators are not currently trained in scouting, nor capable of filling the recon role that manned aircraft fulfill.
Too true. Each system has its benefits and costs. Field of view, for example, is a factor that needs to be considered.
they also operate at altitudes that do not allow for proper reconnaissance.
But they don't have to.
having 4 living, breathing, eyeballs per cockpit, who have a vested interest in mission completion, and have the best interests of the infantryman on the ground cannot be overlooked.
I agree. Not all budget crafters do.
UAV's share a part in todays Role on the battlefield. but they are not the fix.
Before we discuss "the fix" one must consider what it is that someone is trying to fix.
the OH-58D fleet doesn't ask for much, and has operated better than everyone else with FAR less, for a decade... i have full faith in the airframe, it is economical to operate, reliable to fly and maintain, and capable beyond its expected lifespan.
The upgrade probably isn't that cheap, but the point raised is a worthy one. The other side of the coin is force structure and numbers and costs on the manpower/billet end. (Of course, let's not mention the bandwidth management problem as you get more and more big, med, and small UAV's in the air, and then you get into a jamming environment ... )
chopper2004
wonder if Boeing will tailor / modify the Apache / Longbow airframe to the scout role, make it lighter, more nimble, agile, flexible platform
Would it still be an Apache?

You can hang a Hellfire off of pretty much any airframe big enough to carry it.
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Old 13th Dec 2013, 22:50
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wonder if Boeing will tailor / modify the Apache / Longbow airframe to the scout role, make it lighter, more nimble, agile, flexible platform
Even if the airframe is made lighter, its still 7 x OH-58D against 4 x Apache in a C-17. Jeep to Humvee again?
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Old 15th Dec 2013, 07:47
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An interesting take from the 'Motley Fool' of all publications:

The U.S. Army Is About to Make a Huge Mistake

By Rich Smith December 14, 2013

After 44 years of honorable service, the U.S. Army may soon scrap its entire fleet of OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters.

That's the upshot of a story on DefenseNews website this week, which reports that the Army is mulling plans to retire all 338 Kiowas in active service -- and 30 more serving in the National Guard, as well. According to Defense News, the aim is to streamline the number of different kinds of aircraft that the Army is flying... and that it must buy parts for... and must train its mechanics to keep flying, as well. All of this costs money, and in a still-constrained defense spending environment, every nickel counts.

Counting nickels

Which is not to say that scrapping the Kiowa would save money.

Col. Frank Tate, the Army's chief of aviation force development, says that killing the Kiowa would save the Army "approximately $1 billion a year in direct operating and sustainment cost," plus unspecified savings farther down the line.

There is, however, a catch.

Upon taking Kiowas out of its inventory, the Army would find itself without a light helicopter suited to the Kiowa's traditional fire support and reconnaissance roles. The Army says it can press Apache attack helicopters into these missions temporarily, pulling these helos from the Guard, and replacing them with Black Hawks.

According to the Logistics Management Institute, however, the cost of fueling and maintaining Apaches, rather than Kiowas, can run as high as an extra $400 million a year. Other estimates put the cost of fielding Apaches at 50% greater than the cost of keeping Kiowas in place -- and that's not counting the cost of switching the Guard's helo force over to Black Hawks. Roughly seven times as heavy as a Kiowa, you have to figure the Black Hawks would be commensurately more expensive to fuel.

Counting time

Granted, an Apache-Black Hawk solution would be only temporary -- in theory. The Army is currently developing an "Armed Aerial Scout," also known as an "Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter", or ARH, to replace the Kiowa. Most major defense contractors are bidding on the work -- Textron (NYSE: TXT ) , which builds the Kiowa, and also Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT ) , Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) , AgustaWestland, and even Airbus parent EADS.

But there's no guarantee ARH will ever get built. A previous attempt by Boeing and UTC's Sikorsky unit to build a replacement scout, the "Comanche," was canceled over cost-overruns in 2004... after burning through $7 billion in taxpayer dollars. The current ARH effort, meanwhile, is at risk of cancellation due to the same budget cuts that now have the Army talking about killing the Kiowa!

What it means to you

All of this seems to argue against retiring the Kiowa -- or in any event suggests savings from such a move may be much less than the Army is counting on. A further argument against killing the Kiowa is that the Army just finished upgrading every last one of the birds in 2011. One would think that the best time to retire the Kiowas -- if that's the way to go -- was before investing tens of millions of dollars to upgrade them.

So how should stock investors be looking at the situation?

First, understand that the decision to kill the Kiowa is not set in stone. Defense News reported that the decision is "all but done," but that was before Congress announced its deal Wednesday to roll back part of the sequester. If Kiowa survives the Army's attempts to kill it, this whole discussion could become moot.

But if the Kiowa does get dumped, that's probably bad news for Textron, which will lose a big part of its services business. It will be better news for Boeing and United Technologies, who will see their Apaches and Black Hawks (respectively) get more flight time, and consequently require more maintenance work and spare parts.

And farther down the road... the gap created in the Army's aerial capability by lacking a dedicated scout helicopter must be filled. A return of funds previously thought lost to sequester, combined with a clear need for a new aircraft, could breathe new life into the ARH program. It would also mean billions of dollars for whichever company is eventually tapped to build it.#

The U.S. Army Is About to Make a Huge Mistake (BA, LMT, TXT, UTX)
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Old 14th Jan 2014, 20:29
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Defense Secretary Gives Go-Ahead To Army's Planned Aviation Restructure
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved an Army plan to restructure its aviation forces that includes divesting all OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters and taking all AH-64 Apache helicopters out of the National Guard to fill the active component's armed aerial scout mission requirement, according to a defense official.

The official said the defense secretary has adopted the Army's plan in the form it was briefed on Capitol Hill, to key industry players and to Inside the Army last month. The approval of the aviation restructure was driven by internal Pentagon guidance given to the Army earlier this week. A resource management decision that will further detail the implementation of the plan, which will inform the fiscal year 2015 budget request, has yet to be distributed. Orders from the Army staff to move the plan forward are expected in March or April, the official added.
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Old 14th Jan 2014, 20:51
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Politics folks.....Politics!

One sells the idea of cutting the Kiowa's with no replacement....shifting around Aircraft you have left.....claiming it saves money even though it doesn't.

Then three Years down the road when Welfare Man leaves Office and the Senate is firmly in Republican hands....DOD starts getting funded adequately again (translated that means Defense Contractors and not Social Welfare Organizations get funded) then you buy a new Scout Fleet and go through the shift of on-hand Aircraft a second time.....claiming that saves money in the out years. Granted, the need to fund SLEP Programs to update the now well worn Black Hawks and Apaches becomes a necessity as the extra use of the two fleets caused un-foreseen wear and tear.

Right now the Regular Army is in "Survival" mode due to the Sequestration Budget Cuts....and the National Guard and Reserves are going to take really huge hits in order to keep the Regular Army funded and equipped.

Ordinero got caught talking Porky Pies recently when he dissed the National Guard and purely pissed off National Guard leadership.

We go through this song and dance every time the Army's budget goes into crisis mode.....nothing new here....just the same old Army Politics on display.

Any idiot knows you cannot operate Apaches and Blackhawks as cheaply as you can Kiowa's.....and I mean no one. The fact that if you shit can the Kiowa fleet.....at some point you will have to replace them with a comparable aircraft as the Black Hawk and Apache fleets will start reaching their Life Cycle Ends much sooner than planned and that will cause a really huge financial crisis.

Face it.....Industry, Politicians, and non-military Politicians are all into this together.....and that is why such a patently stupid decision is not being held up for ridicule.

The National Guard will not complain too loud so long as they do not start losing Manpower beyond that comparable to the Regular Army.....as they will be getting Black Hawks in lieu of Apaches. They will retain the Lakota's for State Business and have the Black Hawks for "Army" business.

The key factor to look for is any reduction in the augmentation of Regular Army Units by National Guard and Reserve units. Right now National Guard and Reserve units are integrated into Regular Army units as a strategic policy change post Vietnam where the Army had to fight that War without being allowed to mobilize the Reserves.

Those that made that decision never considered we would have a period of over 15 years with almost constant deployments to combat by Guard and Reserve Units. The temptation will be to revert to pre-Vietnam Man Power allocations and altering of Reserve and Guard unit Mission requirements, TO&E. and Manning levels.....which is what Ordinero was saying without saying it.
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