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A new scout helicopter will replace half the Army's Apache fleet
Undeterred by decades of failure, the U.S. Army is trying again to acquire a new scout helicopter. The new rotorcraft is supposed to restore the dedicated aerial scout mission the Army gave up when in 2017 it retired its roughly 300 Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior copters.
And here's a surprise. The new Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft also will replace half of the ground-combat branch's 700 Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
"The FARA will only replace Apaches in our heavy attack reconnaissance squadrons and this represents about half of the Apache fleet," a spokesperson for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told Trimble.
"There have already been serious questions about whether the AH-64 platform will be able to remain relevant, especially in a high-end conflict environment, through 2048, when the Army plans to retire the very last of the gunships," Trevithick explained.
"The Army expects to be integrating significant upgrades into its latest AH-64E Guardian variants through 2026. These include updates to its fire control and targeting systems, improved data sharing and fusion capabilities, better sensors, a more robust ability to work directly with unmanned aircraft and more."
Alongside new artillery and armored vehicles, FARA is one of the Army's highest-priority development programs. A consortium of Boeing and Lockheed is developing the S-97 "pusher" rotorcraft that could meet the FARA requirements. Bell is working on the V-280 tiltrotor that might also meet the Army's needs.
To adequately replace both the OH-58D and the AH-64, the new copter will need to carry sophisticated sensors and a heavy load of long-range weapons. It will need to be able to fly for hours at a time at speeds fast enough to evade enemy defenses, all in hot-and-high conditions that can sap a rotorcraft's lifting power.
It also will need to be tough, reliable and affordable.
"We're looking for an aircraft that, without going into specific requirements or classifications, essentially goes further, can see further, can acquire specific targets further and can engage at greater ranges than current exist and has greater legs – can fly further with a greater payload of weapon systems," Milley told Congress on March 26, 2019.
Milley's spokesperson's comments to Trimble indicate the Army could buy hundreds more FARA copters than the service previously needed. If the new scout replaces on a one-for-one basis all of the long-gone OH-58s as well as half of the AH-64s, then the Army is looking at a requirement for no fewer than 700 new scout rotorcraft.
They could be worth tens of billions of dollars.
The Army in 2018 announced a plan for a fly-off between FARA candidates. The branch wants the new copter to enter service no later than 2028. By military standards, that's not a very long time. Especially considering the Army's proven inability to develop a new scout.
For more than 20 years the service tried and failed to replace the OH-58, which first flew in its austere OH-58A version in 1966. The D-model Kiowa Warrior in the late 1980s added new sensors and weapons to the basic OH-58 airframe.
In its first attempt to replace the OH-58D, the Army in the 1990s paid Boeing and Sikorsky to develop the RAH-66 Comanche, a very expensive "stealth" helicopter that, in reality, probably wouldn't have been very stealthy. The Army in 2004 finally canceled the Comanche.
Next, the service commissioned Bell to develop the ARH-70, a non-stealthy scout that was similar in design to the OH-58D but bigger and more sophisticated than the older copter was. Bell and Boeing squabbled over the program's delays and rising costs. The Army in 2008 canceled the ARH-70, too.
Having failed twice to replace the OH-58D, the Army instead spent millions of dollars upgrading the old scouts before finally disposing of them without a direct substitute. The ground-combat branch surely is hoping its latest effort to develop a new aerial scout fares better than did two previous efforts.
And now that the new scout also will fill in for half of America's Apache gunships, the stakes are even higher.
This article originally appeared on The National Interest.
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A new documentary series about Clint Lorance pits the infantry officer convicted of murder against his former soldiers
The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the six-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.
A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).
But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.
Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.
The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.
The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.
"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.
The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.
Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.
But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.
"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.
The Colt Model 1911 .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol that John Browning dreamed up more than a century ago remains on of the most beloved sidearms in U.S. military history. Hell, there's a reason why Army Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, still rocks an M1911A1 on his hip despite the fact that the Army no longer issues them to soldiers.
But if scoring one of the Army's remaining M1911s through the Civilian Marksmanship Program isn't enough to satisfy your adoration for the classic sidearm, then Colt has something right up your alley: the Colt Model 1911 'Black Army' pistol.