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December 31, 2012

D.C. analyst predicts "no competition" for the Kiowa

Manufacturers vying for a piece of an Army contract for an armed aerial scout helicopter will have to wait until next year to learn whether the Army is going to hold a competition to replace Bell Helicopter's Kiowa Warrior.

But at least one prominent aerospace industry analyst thinks the Army isn't going to hold a competition. Richard Aboulafia, analyst for The Teal Group in Washington D.C., told the Star-Telegram that the Army will stick with the Kiowa because it makes budget sense. And in other publications, he's been quoted as saying: "The replacement for the Kiowa Warrior is likely to be the Kiowa Warrior."

At any rate, James Darcy, spokesman for EADS North America, says the Army has been smart in its strategy to conduct industrywide, voluntary flight tests before talk of any competition gets serious. Last year, his company and several others, including Boeing Corp., participated in skyoffs to demonstrate their aircraft to the Army. The Army is going to use the information it obtained from the demonstrations to decide whether to hold a competition. It hasn't issued any request for proposals on the matter.

That's a smart way to check things out, Darcy said.

"The Army turned the tables on the industry," Darcy said. "They said, 'We're not going to have a competition unless you spend your money and energy to prove to us that we need a competition.'"

North Texas is a draw for the helicopter industry. EADS North America subsidiary, Eurocopter, has offices in Grand Prairie. Bell Helicopter is headquartered in Fort Worth.

Yamil Berard


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