The Senate Appropriations Committee recommends denying a $73.9 million fiscal year 2012 budget request for a Technology Development Contract for the Army’s Armed Scout Helicopter.


In its report on the fiscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill, the panel said that even thought the Analysis of Alternatives was completed early in FY 11, the Army doesn’t plan to award the Technology Development contract until FY ’13.


Thus, the committee report said the funds were “early to need.”


Additionally, SAC is not convinced that increasing funds for OH-58 Kiowa Warrior upgrades are “ a prudent investment in 40-year-old airframes.” So, the committee recommends funding Kiowa Warrior upgrades at a steady state until the Army defines a way ahead for its Armed Scout requirement.


The budget request included $70.4 million in research, development, test and evaluation for the Army to continue Kiowa Warrior upgrades, a $17 million increase over similar funds in FY ’11.


The Committee recognizes that as a result of the termination of the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter in 2004 and the subsequent termination of its successor, the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program, in 2008, the Kiowa will remain in the fleet longer than previously planned.


The committee has supported Kiowa modernization in recent years, but said: while it “understands that the cumulative costs of various OH–58 Kiowa Warrior upgrade initiatives such as the Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program [CASUP] and multiple Engineering Change Proposals are close to or exceed the costs of buying new aircraft.”


Elsewhere in the report, the committee notes a budget request of $145.5 million to replace 13 OH-58D aircraft to replace battle losses on an airframe no longer in production.


To do so, the Army has initiated an effort to rehabilitate OH-58D airframes and upgrade them into the modernized OH-58D configuration, an initiative that would cost more than $10 million per aircraft.


The committee discussed this in the RDT&E section, and said the cost of constructing wartime replacement aircraft and upgrading existing airframes is close to or exceeds the cost of buying new aircraft. The committee therefore “questions whether this is a wise acquisition strategy and remains concerned about the Army’s long term strategy to replace Kiowa Warrior."


Thus, the committee recommends a reduction of four aircraft, which would maintain production at fiscal year 2011 levels and urges the Army to define the way ahead for the Armed Scout requirement.