” If you follow defense procurement, you’ve heard that many times before”

ARH-70 Lost In Development Hell

“Development hell” is a term often used in Hollywood to refer to motion picture projects that are stuck in a sort of pre-birth purgatory. Given what generally issues from Hollywood these days, we should be thankful for all the development hell that we get. When it’s military equipment in a time of war and paid for by you and me, though, it’s not a blessing.

The ARH-70 is a spin-off of the cancelled RAH-66 Comanche:

The U.S. Army was supposed to get the first of its new ARH-70 scout helicopters by September, 2008. But now it looks like the first one won’t be ready until 2010. It gets worse. The ARH-70 was supposed to cost $5.2 million each. But now the manufacturer, Bell Helicopter, wants nearly $10 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 will take time, and a lot of money, to fix.

Read the rest at Strategy Page, and be sure to check out Defense Industry Daily’s coverage.