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In an attempt to sort out what the Service is planning in light of recent announcements that Army Aviation modernization is early-to-need and will be delayed 3-5 years, Defense Systems Journal put a few questions to the Army and received the following answers:

Question: The CSA said that he has "all the modernization we need" in the current plan. What modernization, exactly, is that?

Answer: The Army has taken a proactive approach to our Aviation Modernization plan that ensures a balanced, long range approach. We recognize that we must adapt our plan while avoiding the natural tendency to cut our investment programs to meet short term mandates. While all numbers are not finalized, the plan we presented accepted risk in some modification improvements, minimized the impacts to our industrial base by preserving our multi-years, and increased the production plan by three to five years in the long term (reducing quantities in the near term). This was done to preserve our S&T investments in a future vertical lift and maintain our path to address the deficiencies in the scout mission area, and continue our procurement and modernization of our current platforms and our UAS.

Question: Why the determination that new Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) program start is "early to need" when PEO Aviation has been pushing for a Kiowa Warrior replacement
for decades?

A: Our plan for the scout has not changed. The AAS demonstration (not a fly-off) will enable us to make an informed decision on a path ahead in a constrained budget environment. The demo will support the Army's decision point and will clearly define whether we execute a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) similar to what we have done to other platforms or if we pursue an alternative commercial variant. The SLEP is our baseline plan.

The funding for the demo is in place, and we are awaiting approval to execute the demonstration from the Defense Acquisition Executive. Our target remains Spring 2012.

The Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program (CASUP) on the KW is simply an obsolescence upgrade to an aircraft that has been minimized while anticipating its replacement. CASUP deals with obsolescence issues and addresses an immediate near term solution as we continue to standardize the fleet into one configuration. This will get us to that one F model configuration. CASUP is the next logical step in the evolution of the OH-58 and will result in a platform capable of meeting the Army's armed scout requirement through fiscal year 2025.

Question: Will (when will) the results of the Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) be released?

A: The Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) are in the process of closing the AAS Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) and the Army's path forward is forthcoming. The Army will make the best acquisition decisions based on the funding and requirements provided by Congress and Army leadership. The AAS AoA will support the definition of the materiel solution to meet emerging manned/unmanned teaming requirements with alternatives ranging from a new aircraft to a further upgrade of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior.

Question: Are there any determinations made or implications to be drawn for JMR?

Answer: JMR is an integral part of our long range plan and part of our balanced approach to maintain our investments.