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  • Australasia

    First Kiwi Super Seasprite Flies

    Kaman Aerospace announced today that the first New Zealand government NZ SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite helicopter began production flight testing at Kaman's Bloomfield, Connecticut facility. After production flight tests, this aircraft will be used for maintenance and aircrew training. The program is on track with deliveries of all ten aircraft scheduled to be complete in mid-2015.

    The Kaman Seasprite

    "This milestone is significant for the program and our continued commitment to the New Zealand Maritime Helicopter Capability project," said Drake Klotzman, Kaman's Director, AVMRO Programs.

    Peter Lowen, New Zealand Defence Force Project Manager, stated, "This flight of a NZ SH-2G(I) with a 'Kiwi' roundel represents a major milestone. The effort invested by the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force in cooperation with Kaman is now paying off."

  • #2
    New Helicopter Maintenance Base for Royal Australian Navy

    A $35 million helicopter maintenance facility proposed for the Shoalhaven, has been given the green light for construction.

    The facility, to be built near HMAS Albatross south of Nowra, will be used to maintain 24 of the Royal Australian Navy's new Seahawk Romeo helicopters.

    The Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel met on Thursday to discuss the development.

    The Navy's new MHR-90 will eventually replace the Sea King and Blackhawk helicopters

    The Panel's Chair, Pam Allan, says the group came to the decision unanimously, despite one objection from a neighbouring resident.

    "It wasn't a straight forward objection."

    "I mean this is an area that's already got industrial facilities in the precinct so the final proposal is not going to be having an adverse affect on the local community," she said.

    Ms Allan says the project will be a benefit for the whole region and is expected to generate hundreds of short and long term jobs.

    "It's going to be a great economic and strategic benefit to the Shoalhaven."

    "What we need to do is put in sustainable opportunities and in this case, the aviation industry is an ideal one for the Shoalhaven to be pursuing."

    "So the planning panel was very pleased the proposal had come forward but was very happy for it to proceed."


    • #3
      Aussie Seahawk's Pass 1000 Hour Mark

      The navy’s newest helicopter crews for the Seahawk Romeos have achieved a significant milestone, passing 1000 flight hours in the MH-60R aircraft.

      The crews from New Squadron 725 (NUSQN 725), which are still undergoing training on the new aircraft in the US, clicked over the achievement without fanfare but with considerable style during an exercise flying as a dip gang against a Peruvian Type 209 submarine, one of 11 operations conducted last weekend.

      The first two Romeos are expected back in Australia at HMAS Albatross in coming weeks, with the first Romeo flight planned for November.

      Petty Officer Matt Polman, Leading Seaman Keith Eddy, Petty Officer Luke Stevens and Leading Seaman Courtnay Roper in front of a MH-60R Seahawk Romeo​

      The Romeos are set to be the RAN’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, and the cornerstone of the navy’s aviation combat capability.

      Squadron crews have been undertaking a variety of training operations, including anti-submarine exercises launching Mk 54 torpedos and Hellfire missiles.

      Squadron commanding officer Commander David Frost said every sailor and officer of NUSQN 725 should be proud of the milestone.

      “It's great to see young maintainers and aviators so keen and focused on warfare training,” he said.

      “To launch into a local exercise including six US Navy Romeo squadrons, three P3 and P8 Squadrons, two visiting US Navy Carrier Groups and a live submarine is an opportunity not lost on any of us.”

      NUSQN 725 will end its operations in Jacksonville in December.​


      • #4
        Kiwi Seasprites Engage in Exercise Bluebird

        Two warfare helicopters took off from Base Woodbourne yesterday as part of a training mission in high altitude mountain flying.

        Almost 100 helicopter pilots and crew members from Auckland-based Royal New Zealand Air Force 6 Squadron are taking part in Exercise Bluebird.

        The week-long exercise provides experience of high altitude flying in two navy Seasprite helicopters. The Seasprites are maintained by the Air Force, but 6 Squadron is crewed by navy pilots and crew members.

        Seasprites are used for surface warfare missions and attacking ships, as well as in search and rescue, operational tasks, load lifting and medical evacuations, says Lieutenant Commander John Barker​

        The helicopters flew to the Richmond Ranges and Dip Flat, near St Arnaud, yesterday.

        Training officer for 6 Squadron, Lieutenant Commander John Barker, said six crews, made up of a pilot, an observer and a crew member, along with 80 maintenance crew arrived in Marlborough on Sunday.

        The squadron had five Seasprites, which were put on the back of navy warships.

        Their main purpose was surface warfare missions and attacking ships, Barker said.

        They were also used for search and rescue, operational tasks, load lifting and medical evacuation.

        The helicopters could fly up to 2133 metres and were surprisingly easy to fly, he said.

        "It weighs six tonnes loaded, but it feels like a small helicopter," he said.

        "They have very powerful engines, more power than you can ever really need."

        Barker, who was in the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom for 25 years, arrived in New Zealand eight years ago on an exchange programme with his wife and three children and never left.

        The veteran pilot, originally from Dorset, said flying a helicopter was like riding a bike.

        "If you're properly trained and have the aptitude, you've either got it or you haven't, and you never forget," he said.

        Eight new Seasprites with new glass cockpits and modern avionics would be arriving in New Zealand in January.

        The old models were 13 years old and would be sold, Barker said.


        • #5
          Kiwi Army Gets a Lift-Up from RNZAF

          A new method is being trialled to transport L119 Howitzer guns without having to dismantle them and pack them up every time they need to be moved.

          A Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter and crew recently participated in a joint training exercise with the New Zealand Army's 161 Battery to move four L119 Howitzer guns by air.

          The NH90 provides the New Zealand Defence Force with increased air lift capability and can lift a complete Howitzer.

          “Prior to the NH90, the Iroquois' were used for moving the guns but this was a significantly longer process with several helicopters involved - each gun had to be dismantled and transported in a few pieces due to their weight,” says the NZ Defence Force. “During the exercise four guns were lifted, their teams, ammunition and extra equipment.”

          The video shows the Army preparing the guns for aerial lift, the gun under-slung by the NH90 moving from Waiouru Military Camp to the wider training area, and the Howitzer gun in action.



          • #6
            Australian Army Tiger Upgrade Approved

            The Australian Department of Defence has granted a combined pass approval for upgrades to the Australian Army's Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARH).

            Under the LAND 2089 Phase 3B, approximately 21 Tiger helicopters will be upgraded with an interim tactical data link, which will further integrate the helicopter into the combined arms land force battlefield.

            Valued at less than $20m, the Tiger upgrade project also includes associated training and support.

            The Austrlian Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, the Airbus Tiger, is to be upgraded

            Australian Defence Minister David Johnston said: "The interim tactical data link will improve the Tiger's situational awareness in the battlespace by improving the helicopter's ability to receive in-flight tactical positioning of friendly and known enemy forces.

            "Through this data link the Tigers will be able to share targeting information, coordinate battlefield movements and tactical objectives, and transmit real-time reconnaissance information between the aircraft and the land forces."

            The project is predominantly managed by Elbit Systems Australia. Future upgrades for the helicopter, which will deliver a fully integrated tactical data link solution after 2020, will build on the existing lessons provided by the interim configuration.

            Elbit will develop the software and battle management system, while Airbus Group Australia Pacific will conduct the aircraft technical modification works.

            The project's through-life support will be managed under existing contract arrangements relating to the particular components of the tactical data link capability.

            According to Johnston, the upgrade is an important step in the continued enhancement and modernisation of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
            The Australian Army currently operates 22 Tiger ARHs, a two-seat attack helicopter that is designed for precise day and night surveillance and fire-support missions.

            An upgraded version of the Eurocopter Tiger HAP, the helicopter features upgraded MTR390 engines, M299 launchers for firing Hellfire II missiles and 70mm free-flight Hydra rockets, as well as a Nexter 30mm cannon. It also provides protection against 23mm auto-cannon fire.


            • #7
              Boeing-Thales Win Australian Training Contract

              Defence Minister Senator David Johnston has formally declared the team comprising Boeing Defence Australia and Thales Australia as the winning tenderer of the Project AIR 9000 Phase 7 Helicopter Aircrew Training Systems requirement.

              The contract is still yet to be signed, but industry sources say it is scheduled to occur by the end of October. The winning bid included 15 Airbus Helicopters EC135 machines, three full motion simulators, and the addition of a flightdeck to Navy’s new (and as-yet-unannounced) sea-going training vessel, Minister Johnston told media at HMAS Albatross near Nowra on Thursday morning.

              EC135s will replace Navy Squirrels and Army Kiowas (Photo: Paul Sadler)

              “This will deliver a fully-integrated modern training environment with both inflight and virtual environments on contemporary twin-engine helicopters and flight simulators,” the Minister said. “These will prepare both Navy and Army for the new generation of advanced combat helicopters such as the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, MRH 90 Taipan, MH‑60R Seahawk Romeo and our new CH-47F Chinook Foxtrots.”

              “Defence will also achieve a significant efficiency now that all Army and Navy aircrew will do their initial helicopter training in the one location,” he added. “Being based at Albatross will also bring the advantage of aircrew being able to train in realistic conditions at sea including ship deck-landing and search and rescue skills.”

              The Boeing/Thales team was informed it was the preferred tenderer last December, selected ahead of a direct bid by Australian Aerospace (now part of Airbus Group Australia Pacific) with the EC135, and a teaming of Raytheon Australia and Bell which had offered a solution based on the Bell 429. The EC135s will be acquired through a commercial agreement with Airbus Helicopters which is not part of the Boeing/Thales team.

              Other teamings which weren’t shortlisted included one of KBR, Elbit Systems and Qantas Defence Services which had also offered the EC135; and AgustaWestland, CAE Australia and BAE Systems Australia which had offered the AW 109. An earlier team comprising Lockheed Martin Australia and Bristow Helicopters Australia chose not to respond to the formal tender.

              The first EC135s are expected to commence training in late 2016. Along with the simulators and other synthetic training devices, the 15 twin-engined EC135s will replace about 15 Navy Eurocopter AS350 BA Squirrels and 30 Army Bell 206B Kiowas, and will train about 130 helicopter aircrew members for both services per year. No details were available about the specification of the new machines, nor whether any military equipment had been specified.

              Boeing Defence Australia managing director Kym Gillis told Australian Aviation that more information on the winning tender would be available after the contract was signed, including details about the facilities, staffing numbers, costs, and timings. But he did say that the number of helicopters and simulators to be provided had been determined through extensive modelling by Boeing at its Systems Analysis Laboratory (SAL) in Brisbane, and that the company had seen extensive interest in its modelling techniques from overseas training organisations.


              • #8
                Australia's HMAS Albatross To Be Home to Boeing-Thales Training Centre

                HMAS Albatross will become the home of a new helicopter training system for navy and army personnel after Boeing-Thales won an Australian defence force training contract (see post above).

                The $700 million HATS (Helicopter Aircrew Training System) program, was announced by Defence Minister David Johnston at the Nowra naval base on Thursday morning. The minister described it as “a very big day for Shoalhaven, Nowra and helicopters in Australia”.

                He said contracts were about to be signed for the $700 million system which would deliver about 380 jobs to Nowra, 80 of those permanent in the long-term life of the program.

                Defence Minister David Johnston meets HMAS Albatross personnel during his visit to the base on Thursday where he announced a $700 million Helicopter Aircrew Training System would be based at the Nowra naval air station​

                “The training scheme will equip us with world class, qualified helicopter pilots for our new MH60 Romeo helicopters, which bring a huge anti-submarine and fighting capability to our frigates on the water, 47 MRH-90 helicopters, 22 Tigers and seven Chinooks,” he said.

                “This is nothing but positive for the region or quality of helicopter pilots that we’ll put in the air for the Australian Defence Force.”

                In a very hotly contested tender process, Senator Johnston said the preferred partner for HATS, Boeing Defence Australia, would provide three full-motion Thales EC 135 flight simulators, a flight deck for the navy’s new seagoing training vessel, 15 EC-135 twin-engine glass cockpit training European helicopters, which is very reliable and cost effective, which would replace the Squirrels and Kiowas.

                “It is a huge saving in bringing all the training together across the four platforms. Our output is across the four helicopters we use. Having them all training and doing what they do together, gives us some interoperability, commonality and more cost effectiveness,” he said.

                The program also includes around $200 million in new and refurbished facilities at HMAS Albatross.

                Initial operating capability for HATS is due by late 2018 but the systems will begin to receive students before then, with a capacity of up to 130 students a year covering pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrewmen, sensor operators and qualified aircrew returning for instructor training.


                • #9
                  New Zealand Air Force Receives Final NH90

                  The Royal New Zealand Air Force has taken delivery of its final NH90 helicopter at Base Ohakea.

                  The arrival brings the total number of NH90 helicopters in the fleet to eight.

                  Air Force chief, Air Vice-Marshal Mike Yardley says the NH90 helicopter is a significant step-up from the Iroquois helicopters the Air Force has used for many years.

                  New Zealand's last NH90 being unloaded from an Antonov An-124 at Ohakea Air Base

                  “The NH90 are highly capable helicopters and we've been flying them on sortees for the past year. Most notably, the NH90 assisted with the Pike River re-entry in October 2013 by removing 35 tonnes of debris from the mine's ventilation shaft.

                  “NH90s have a significantly long range and endurance, and they can lift up to 3,200kgs of cargo. They are also versatile and can be deployed in many environments such as landing in snow or being embarked on a Royal New Zealand Navy vessel.

                  “The Air Force undertakes a lot of work with NZ Police, Customs, MPI and MFAT. NH90 helicopters provide us with an excellent asset capable of assisting in keeping New Zealanders safe,” adds Mike.

                  The NH90s were recently in Nelson and Marlborough as part of annual alpine flying training and they will be involved in Exercise Kiwi Koru in the Taranaki region in November.


                  • #10
                    Boeing-Airbus Awarded Australia's HATS Contract

                    Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) and Airbus Helicopters have signed a contract for Airbus to provide 15 Airbus EC 135 T2+ helicopters for the ADF’s AIR 9000 Phase 7 Aelicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS).

                    Announced as the preferred bidder late last year, the Boeing and Thales Australia team signed a contract with the Commonwealth on October 31 to provide 15 EC 135 T2+s, flight simulators and a training vessel to fulfil the contract. The new aircraft will replace Navy Squirrel and Army Kiowa helicopters at a new joint facility to be built at Nowra.

                    Airbus Helicopters Executive Vice President, Global Business and Services, Dominique Maudet (left) and Boeing Defence Australia Vice President and Managing Director, Kim Gillis​

                    “Airbus Helicopters is very pleased that the Boeing and Thales team has demonstrated its confidence in our product by selecting the EC135 T2+ as their preferred platform, and we are delighted to be supporting them in the development of a new, modern helicopter aircrew training system for the ADF”, Airbus Helicopters’ Head of Sales – Australia Pacific, Peter Harris said in a statement. “The selection of the Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ twin-engine, glass cockpit, helicopter is an excellent choice of an ideal training platform, along with the Thales full-motion EC135 flight-simulators.”

                    The Airbus statement was accompanied by a mock-up of how the new machines will look in ADF service. Rather than the familiar sea grey of the Squirrels or the camouflage scheme worn by the Kiowas, the new EC 135s will instead wear an attractive high-viz black and yellow scheme.

                    How the EC 135 T2+ will look in ADF service under the joint Navy/Army HATS program​

                    “This reinforces Boeing as a leading provider of military aviation training in Australia,” said Kim Gillis, BDA’s managing director and vice president in a separate statement. “We will meet the needs of the Australian Defence Force through a balanced program that makes the most of its cadre of instructors supported by flight simulators and computer-based instruction and training aircraft.”

                    The first of the new machines is expected to be delivered in 2016.