Procurement: Another Fine Mess In The U.S.

Archives

July 11, 2008: After two years of delays, and huge increases in costs, the U.S. Army is openly discussing cancelling the ARH-70 scout helicopter. The army means business, as several high profile army projects have been cancelled in the last decade, despite manufacturers mustering their Congressional and military allies to oppose such moves. The army has told the ARH-70 manufacturer to come up with a convincing rescue plan. Otherwise, another helicopter manufacturer will get a shot at the contract.

The army was supposed to get the first of its new ARH-70 scout helicopters by September, 2008. But over a year ago that slipped to sometime in 2010. It gets worse. The ARH-70 was supposed to cost $8-9 million each. That was the 2005 estimate. But now the manufacturer, Bell Helicopter, wants over $12 million per aircraft. The army originally wanted to buy 368 ARH-70s. But with the delays and price increases, that number will likely shrink. Bell got the contract in July, 2005.

The 2.8 ton ARH-70A is a militarized Bell 407. The helicopter it is replacing, the OH-58D, is itself a militarized version of the older Bell 206. ARH stands for or armed reconnaissance helicopter. ARH-70 has a max speed of 243 kilometers an hour, and max range of 577 kilometers. It was supposed to be a straightforward conversion. A new engine and tail assembly, plus adding a fire control and weapons system similar to that installed in the OH-58D. But problems were encountered, that took more time, and money, than Bell expected, to fix. If you follow defense procurement, you've heard that many times before.

The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior has a top speed of 226 kilometers per hour, and a range of 241 kilometers. It has a mast-mounted sight, which carries a powerful FLIR (heat sensing camera) and a laser designator. The OH-58D is lightly armed, and usually only carries four Hellfire (anti-vehicle) or Stinger (anti-aircraft) missiles, or 14 70mm unguided (or guided) rockets.

The delays and price increases are attributed to the usual problems. The manufacturer over-promised, and the army keeps adding new features to the fire control and cockpit electronics. The manufacturer knows how this works, and has lawyers, tech writers, Congressional lobbyists and public relations teams standing by to come up with perfectly good, and legal, reasons for the delays and cost increases. The military, and the taxpayers, usually relent and pay up. Not always, but usually. Collective amnesia then sets in, and the process is repeated endlessly. But in the last decade, that has begun to change. Troublesome projects are increasingly at risk, and that acts as an incentive to make things work.

 


Article Archive

Procurement: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close