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Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH)

The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program was terminated in October 2008. The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program was established to correct deficiencies in the fielded system currently fulfilling the armed reconnaissance role, allow for commonality with other helicopter platforms, and to enhance future growth potential. The ARH would be a direct replacement for the aging OH-58D Kiowa Warrior fleet. The primary user for the ARH was the Active Component. This helicopter would meet the identified time-sensitive requirements for aerial armed reconnaissance capabilities.

The ARH mission was an existing mission currently being conducted by OH-58D aircraft. The ARH would address these current deficiencies through COTS or NDI solutions capable of operating with Current and Stryker equipped forces. This helicopter would possess the capability to enable dominant maneuver for the joint air-ground maneuver force by providing aggressive combined armed reconnaissance. This capability contributes to the multi-dimensional precision engagement Force Application capability described in the Major Combat Operations Joint Functional Concept for multi-dimensional precision engagement, including close fire support by providing a manned platform which combines Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and engagement capabilities.

The mission of the ARH was to provide a robust reconnaissance and security capability for the Joint Combined arms airground maneuver team. The ARH was a combination of a modified off-the-shelf (OTS) airframe integrated with a non-development item (NDI) mission equipment package (MEP). The ARH would be fielded to support current forces in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and would possess the growth potential to bridge the capability gaps to Future Combat Force.

The rapidly reconfigurable ARH provides the space, weight, and power to incorporate the MEP, as Mission, Enemy, Terrain, Troops available, Time and Civilian considerations (METT_TC) dictates, for use in High/hot (4K/95F with growth potential to 6K/95F) conditions, complex terrain, and urban environments. The MEP provides a robust communications and navigation suite, advanced state-of-the-art sensor assembly, and self-defense armament capability to fight for, collect, and distribute critical information to all members of the Joint air-ground maneuver team. Specifically, the ARH's robust communication suite when combined with the sensors assembly provides real time delivery of actionable combat information to the joint force while enabling precision employment of Joint sensors and fires.

The ARH would provide a highly deployable, reconnaissance and security capability that would employ immediately upon arrival into theater. The platform would address the capability gaps of interoperability, survivability, versatility, agility, lethality, and sustainability to ensure interoperability over extended ranges, enhance mission effectiveness throughout the operational environment, and focus on system survivability against threats operating in the contemporary operational environment, while reducing the logistical burden on the tactical unit. The fundamental purpose of ARH was to perform reconnaissance and to provide security in combat operations. In doing so, it improves the commander's ability to maneuver and concentrate superior combat power against the enemy at the decisive time and place.

It was a goal of the Battlespace Awareness Joint Functional Concept to 'fight first to ensure the blue force commanders have superior information'. The armed reconnaissance capability allows the maneuver commander to 'see first' with a man-in-the-loop decision maker well forward to provide proactive versus reactive decision making capability and fight for actionable combat information regarding dispositions of enemy forces and relevant terrain to permit friendly maneuver to positions of advantage. It would provide limited organic fires as well as a robust capability to coordinate delivery of networked fires. This helicopter shall provide the maneuver commander reaction time and maneuver space by detecting enemy forces at distance from friendly forces.

The ARH would conduct armed reconnaissance to fight for actionable combat information to enable joint/combined air-ground maneuver execution of mobile strike, close combat, an d vertical maneuver operations across the full spectrum of military operations.

The ARH would provide precision capability through lethal organic fires, dynamic employment of joint networked fires, and responsive target acquisition/identification for full spectrum, day and night operations; be rapidly deployable for global employment against a distributive, highly adaptive threat on an asymmetrical battlefield employing conventional and unconventional methods; enable the air-ground maneuver commander to "see-understand-act first" with a warfighter-in-the-loop to provide proactive decision making, assure critical reaction time and maneuver space, and set the conditions for the joint/combined air-ground maneuver team to "finish decisively."

The ARH would be a dual crew station, single-pilot-operable aircraft capable of operating worldwide. The ARH was a militarized version of the highly successful 407 single-engine light helicopter and would provide the Army with and enhanced capability in the areas of reconnaissance and light attack. The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter has state-of-the-art, glass cockpit avionics and operates day and night in limited weather environments.

To complement the ARH's larger, enhanced engine would be an upgraded tail rotor from the Bell 427 which would provide greater directional stability and control authority. Its upgraded glass cockpit was to provide greater accuracy, has better display ergonomics, and was to be more user friendly than the current display used in OH-58 Kiowa helicopter. The ARH would also incorporate an exhaust infrared suppressor and would be equipped with a wide array of weapons including a 2000 round per minute Gatling gun, 2.75 rockets and Hellfire missiles.


On 23 February 2004, the United States (US) Army announced the results of the Aviation Modernization Task Force, which included the termination of the Comanche Helicopter Program. As a result, the Army restructured aviation organizations to reflect current and anticipated needs. The Request For Proposal (RFP) issued by the Army on Dec. 9, 2004, for an Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH). According to the RFP, the Army was expected to make a decision on the ARH Program in July 2005. A total of 368 aircraft to be delivered between fiscal years 2006 through 2011.

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) issued Request for Proposal (RFP) W58RGZ-05-R-0005 to conduct a full and open competitive procurement for the U.S. Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) requirements. The ARH would utilize Non-Developmental Item (NDI) aircraft and associated support equipment.

A best value approach would be used in the source selection process. The Government anticipates that the contract award would include an initial Cost Plus Incentive Fee effort for the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase with Firm Fixed Price Op tions for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP).

The System Development and Demonstration (SDD) efforts would include modification of an existing aircraft and integration of existing subsystems, Off the Shelf (OTS) and Non-Development Item (NDI) required for the total ARH qualification and associated processes. Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) would follow the RDT&E requirement and Full Rate Production (FRP) was scheduled to begin in FY08.

The Government has determined that two (2) SDD aircraft are required for Government integration subsequent to SDD. The cost of at least two of the SDD aircraft must be reimburseable to the contractor; and, in accordance with FAR 52.245-5(c), the Government would take title to those aircraft and any other SDD aircraft the cost of which was reimbursable to the contractor. Aircraft to which the Government takes title would be delivered, F.O.B. Origin, upon completion of the SDD effort.

The ARH Program Manager (PM) shall use IPT to manage and over see the development of the ARH Program. The process provides for the implementation of the ARH program Integrated Product Team Process. IPT organization, structure and responsibilities are delineated in the Integrated Product Team Process. A responsibility matrix shall be provided prior to the IBR identifying WBS elements assigned to each IPT. IPTs shall be organized or lower WBS elements created such that WBS elements are not shared across IPTs. The Contractor shall deliver Initial ASL/PLL spares that are in sufficient quantities to support Threshold 80% Operational readiness rate and mission profile requirements of the ARH aircraft specified in ARH Performance Specification AVNS-PRF-10239, based on an assumed 20 flight hours per month (peacetime) per aircraft for a period of 90 days ASL/30 days PLL.

Planned Integration/Qualification - 3rd quarter FY 2005

Planned Production Commencement - FY 2006

Planned Quantitites - Support First Unit Equipped (FUE) of 30 aircraft as soon as possible. Maximum production rate of 90 aircraft per year.

AH-6J/MH-6J Mission Enhancement Little Bird

On 05 February 2005, two days before submitting a 7 bid for the armed reconnaissance helicopter, Boeing signed an agreement to make a multimillion-dollar cash investment in MD Helicopters (MDHI). The deal was was not contingent on Boeing's actually winning the ARH bid. Boeing proposed upgrading the AH-6J/MH-6J Mission Enhancement Little Bird (MELB) platform, a highly modified version of the commercial MD 530 light helicopter made by MDHI. Boeing would be the prime contractor, performing integration at its AH-64D Longbow Apache plant which was located adjacent to MDHI's Mesa, AZ plant.

Boeing's MH-6 MELB offering was similar to the aircraft already in service with the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), but features a rearranged cabin, a four-blade 'scissor' tail-rotor configuration and a new mission avionics fit.

Bell 407

In response to the US Army's RFP for a new Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH), Bell has built a flying demonstrator helicopter for aviators to experience the exceptional handling qualities of the aircraft. Bell Helicopter was offering a militarized version of its enormously successful Bell 407 single engine light helicopter.

Bell Helicopter believes its Bell 407 was the perfect aircraft for meeting the Army's current and future ARH mission requirements. The Bell ARH, which would be built at Bell's Military Assembly and Integration Center in Amarillo, Texas, would also draw from a large and talented supplier base for its sophisticated sensors, weapons and defensive systems.

As Systems Integration Leader, Bell Helicopter works with Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the Army's Technical Integration Center, to reduce cycle time and risk in integrating the ARH Mission Equipment Package (MEP) into the U.S. Army's Net Centric Environment. Bell designed and performed the systems integration on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, the Army's first fully digitized helicopter which has accumulated over 1.1 million hours of flight time, including 200,000 combat flight hours.

Bell Helicopter was teamed with a number of world-class aerospace suppliers in support of the ARH program in the areas of Mission Equipment Package (MEP) and training systems integration. In addition to Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, FLIR Systems, L-3, Flight Safety (FSI) and Computer Sciences Corporation round out Bell Helicopter's team in bringing the best of industry to the Bell ARH program for the Army.

Capable of being equipped with a wide variety of weapons, the Bell ARH would provide the Army with mission versatility, with the flexibility to accomplish armed reconnaissance, light attack, troop insertion, and special operations missions with a single aircraft. The Bell ARH would provide this flexibility during the day and at night as well as during adverse weather or periods of poor visibility.

The Bell ARH would be powered by the Honeywell HTS900 turbine engine that was based on proven, mature commercial and US Army T800 technology and design. In additional to being designed for extremely low Direct Operating Costs (DOC), the HTS900 turbine engine would be equipped with a sophisticated dual-channel full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system, based on T800 technology.

One of the key requirements of the Army's RFP was deployability. Two Bell ARH helicopters can be deployed aboard a C-130 and be unloaded, flyable and ready to fight within 15 minutes. The Bell ARH would be supported by Bell's industry-leading product support organization with over 180 locations throughout the world.

The Bell ARH was faster, more agile, and maneuverable for any mission in enemy territory. Based on the 407 commercial data, the Bell ARH was 18x more reliable than the first integrated ARH, the Kiowa Warrior. The Bell ARH excels in low-hovering areas of urban street fighting and two ARH's can be deployed from a C-130 in 15 minutes. The Bell ARH also has more space and weight available for fuel, ammunition, and troops, making sure you never leave a man or an uncompleted mission behind.

Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. was awarded the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) contact July 29, 2005. It called for Bell to build 368 aircraft for delivery during fiscal years 2006 through 2013 with the final cost estimated at $3 billion. The contract signing ceremony was held on Aug. 29, 2005.

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Page last modified: 18-01-2017 19:35:42 ZULU