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News > The latest Armed Aerial Scout 72X Technical Demonstration Aircraft makes its first flight

The latest Armed Aerial Scout 72X Technical Demonstration Aircraft makes its first flight

December 8, 2010

A new Armed Aerial Scout 72X Technical Demonstration Aircraft (TDA) performed its maiden flight yesterday from American Eurocopter’s facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. 

This is the second of three TDAs funded by EADS North America as part of its industry team to demonstrate the total capability of the AAS-72X with a fully-integrated Mission Equipment Package (MEP).  Also on this team are American Eurocopter – which would build the rotary-wing aircraft at its Columbus, Mississippi helicopter center of excellence – and Lockheed Martin.

The AAS-72X is proposed for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout mission, offering twin-engine safety and the high-and-hot operating performance required for such operations. 

Yesterday’s first flight lasted 40 minutes, with the objective of demonstrating integrated targeting sensor and manned/unmanned teaming, along with communications and navigation capabilities.  Subsequent test flights will demonstrate additional capabilities required to meet the U.S. Army’s current Armed Aerial Scout mission requirements.

“This is a significant milestone for our industry team as we further demonstrate the capabilities of our aircraft and its ability to meet the Army’s warfighting requirement,” said Sean O’Keefe, CEO of EADS North America.  “We’re pleased with our progress to date and remain fully committed to developing and demonstrating a solution for the Armed Aerial Scout mission.”

The first TDA aircraft has been in use to demonstrate anticipated AAS-72X requirements for the Army’s Armed Aerial Scout mission.  As part of this activity, a series of successful high/hot test flights were performed in July 2009 that achieved all test objectives, including hover-out-of-ground-effect and flight endurance with a 2,300-pound simulated Mission Equipment Package, and a transportability demonstration of five helicopters on a C-17 transport aircraft.

Since that time other advancements on the program include the development of the mission equipment package’s Systems Integration Laboratory at Lockheed Martin’s Orlando, Florida facility.

“Lockheed Martin’s considerable progress in maturing the state-of-the-art AAS MEP demonstrates our commitment to providing a best-value, superior solution to meet the warfighters’ armed scout need,” said Bob Gunning, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control vice president of Fire Control programs.  “We are leveraging our expertise from other combat-proven rotary- and fixed-wing programs to develop the lowest risk MEP.  This first flight marks a significant achievement on our path towards flying a production prototype.”

The AAS-72X is derived from the same family of aircraft as the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, offering a low-risk evolution of the U.S. Army’s newest rotary-wing aircraft, which is widely considered one of the most successful acquisition programs in the service’s history.  American Eurocopter produces the UH-72A for EADS North America at its Columbus facility, where 146 Lakotas have been delivered on time and within budget, including five to the U.S. Navy.

“Today’s event proves our commitment to this project in terms of our financial investment and emphasizes our enhanced engineering capability to serve our U.S. Army customer.  This is yet another example of delivering on our promise” said Marc Paganini, the President and CEO of American Eurocopter.

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