EADS North America and its industry team of American Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin will independently fund and develop three AAS-72X helicopters to demonstrate the performance, capabilities and maturity of this rotary-wing aircraft for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout mission. The first AAS-72X Technical Demonstration Aircraft (TDA) will be operational in late 2010, and will be used for mission equipment and weapon system integration, performance testing and survivability validations. “This commitment is a significant investment and continues our entrepreneurial approach to meeting our customers’ demanding needs. These aircraft will ensure the AAS-72X provides a fully capable, compliant Armed Aerial Scout solution for America’s warfighters at the earliest possible date,” said EADS North America CEO Sean O’Keefe. “It is part of a low-risk approach that combines mature, developed technologies with the proven UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter – which is in widespread service with the U.S. Army.” The AAS-72X flight test and demonstration program is backed by significant investment from the EADS North America-led industrial team – which includes Eurocopter, American Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin. In addition to the three demonstration helicopters, Lockheed Martin has established a high-fidelity systems integration lab for the AAS-72X’s mission equipment package at its Orlando, Fla., facility. As a highly capable helicopter for the Armed Aerial Scout mission, the AAS-72X combines twin-engine safety, high and hot operating performance and a large cabin for true multi-role capability. The AAS-72X is derived from the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, offering a low-risk evolution of the U.S. Army’s newest rotary-wing aircraft, which is widely considered one of the most successful acquisition programs in the service’s history. Production of the AAS-72X would take place at the Columbus, Miss., helicopter center of excellence operated by EADS North America’s subsidiary American Eurocopter, where the UH-72A currently is assembled for the U.S. Army. EADS North America has delivered more than 100 UH-72As on time and within budget. The UH-72A in-service fleet is demonstrating its mission capabilities and reliability with U.S. Army and National Guard, having logged more than 25,000 flight hours at an operational readiness rate of greater than 90 percent.