August 24, 2005 10:16 AM US Eastern Timezone
EADS North America to Offer the UH-145 for the U.S. Army's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) Mission; American Eurocopter to Partner on the LUH Team
WASHINGTON & GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 24, 2005--EADS North America and its American Eurocopter business unit will offer the UH-145 advanced rotary-wing aircraft for the U.S. Army's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) mission. EADS North America will lead the capture effort and act as the prime contractor for the UH-145 team.
The twin-engine UH-145 is a "best value" solution for the Army, providing a U.S.-built helicopter that meets or exceeds all speed, range, endurance and performance requirements. The UH-145 is a version of the highly successful EC145 helicopter, which has been in production since 2002 for law enforcement, paramilitary and security agencies, emergency medical service providers, offshore operators and corporations in America and around the world.
"EADS North America is proud to offer the UH-145 to meet the modernization needs of the US Army. Our UH-145 team combines the No. 1 helicopter in its class, American Eurocopter's extensive rotary-wing market experience and the resources of EADS North America as prime contractor," said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., the Chairman and CEO of EADS North America. "We are uniquely positioned to meet the operational and long term support requirements of this key Army aviation program. The UH-145 will offer the Army a modern platform that combines advanced rotary-wing technology and proven commercial capability, and which outperforms other existing or remanufactured solutions."
Production of the UH-145 will be performed in the U.S. by American Eurocopter, which has been building and supporting helicopters in the US for more than 30 years. The company has production and assembly sites in Columbus, Mississippi and Grand Prairie, Texas.
American Eurocopter is a U.S. helicopter market leader, with a large customer base in the Homeland Security, para-public and law enforcement sectors. Its helicopters are operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and police departments, sheriff's offices and other security agencies from coast-to-coast.
The U.S. Army is planning to acquire over 300 LUH platforms to replace aging UH-1 and OH-58 aircraft. The LUH will perform a wide range of light utility missions in the United States, including medical evacuation, passenger and logistics transportation, as well as Homeland Security operations. The Army National Guard is expected to receive the majority of these replacement aircraft.
The UH-145 provides an optimized mix of new and proven technologies for sustained superior mission performance, excellent operational availability and low operating costs. Safety features include its twin-engine design, redundant hydraulic and electrical systems, and high-set main and tail rotors that allow loading/unloading through the main doors and rear-fuselage clamshell doors even while the rotors are turning.
The helicopter is outfitted with an advanced avionics suite that includes a glass cockpit for flight and navigation instrument display. It already is FAA Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) certified - a requirement in the Army's commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) acquisition strategy for LUH. The UH-145's large open cabin provides maximum flexibility with seating configurations for up to nine passengers, or two stretchers for MEDEVAC missions.
About EADS North America (www.eads-na.com)
EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $6 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 100,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. With 10 operating companies located in 28 cities and 15 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.
About American Eurocopter (www.eurocopterusa.com):
American Eurocopter is the largest business unit of EADS North America, and sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any U.S. manufacturer. The product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. American Eurocopter's headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, TX, with a large new factory in Columbus, Mississippi.
Looks like the chopper that one of the local medevac services use.
Not sure though. Last time I was up close, it was dark and I was trying to get an MVA vic loaded,
so I didn't have time for sightseeing...
It was more likely a BK117. Looks very similar but is better suited for medevac. Did it have clam shell doors at the aft of the fuselage under the boom?
ETA: They're both Eurocopter products, hense the similarities.
It's going to replace the OH-58?
I thought this was going to be a light utility chopper. The OH-58 is an Armed recon chopper...
No, only the OH-58D's are armed. The LUH will replace the OH-58C's that are being used in administrative support, and Homeland Security missions. It will not be replacing any OH-58's used in direct combat units (armed or unarmed).
The current plan is for the LUH to not be a combat asset, but be used in admnistrative support functions in CONUS, Homeland Secuity missions (to get dollars for the aircraft), and overseas in a "permissive enviroment" (i.e. non-combat) role for relief, etc.
The Lynx is too much aircraft for this program. It'd be a much better choice for a combat helicopter, but the LUH is a non-combat system, and only needs to carry six people or two streatchers, and 3,000lbs underslung. Frankly, the Lynx's capability puts it out of the running, because it's far more capable than that, and there's no reason to pay for that added capability (at least according to the Army brass). The LUH is replacing the Huey, but only the ones that are used for "ash and trash" missions, not as combat lift aircraft. For the combat role, the Blackhawk will replace all Hueys.
The Bell 210 has an inside track, but both the Lockheed/MD and EADS offering are viable.
With the recent award of Bell's ARH contract, the Pentagon has to take a hard look at the Lockheed/MD to keep the US's helicopter production base viable. The USCG is currently operating virtually the same aircraft as the LUH offering as the MH-90, in role similar to what the Army intends for the LUH.
The EADS UH-145 has been gaining traction as well. Politically, 300 aircraft from EADS could be an important tool. The aircraft itself is a good one as well.
In several recent conferences on the LUH program, some resistance to the Bell 210 has been building at the operator level. Nearly all of the aviators that will actually be performing the missions would rather fly the smaller MD-Explorer/EADS 145, and that the Huey is too big and has a few other drawbacks (like noise) for the mission.
Much of the contract will depend on overall contract cost, not just the cost of the aircraft itself. The LUH will be maintained different than the Army's combat rotary assets. Similar to the fixed wing support stuff the Army flys, so the support package is really going to be dependant on what the overall cost will be for the fleet, and to maintain the fleet at 80% OR rate.
The LUH competition is going to be fun to watch. It's not the normal way, or mission that the Army buys aircraft for