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USA to approve V-22 Osprey sale to Israel

USA to approve V-22 Osprey sale to Israel | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The USA is about to approve the sale of Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor transport aircraft and Boeing KC-135 tankers to Israel, according to industry sources, who indicate that the proposed deals are part of a larger package of agreements which also concern the planned sale of advanced weapon systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The wide-ranging deals are designed "not just to boost Israel's capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat," says one US source. New equipment will "also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies," the official adds.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will visit Israel and Middle East region next week, when sources suggest the deals are due to be finalised.


The Israeli air force has evaluated the V-22 through numerous test flights performed in the USA, with the service having recommended purchasing an undisclosed number of the type for use during special operations.

Also expected to be contained within a deal are KC-135 tankers, which sources expect to replace the converted Boeing 707s currently used by the Israeli air force for inflight refuelling.

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Afghan airlift is Herculean task for German armed forces

Afghan airlift is Herculean task for German armed forces | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Germany’s armed forces are squaring up to one of the most challenging logistical tasks in their entire 58-year modern history.

The mission is to transport as many as 4,800 containers of valuable equipment and 1,200 vehicles back to Germany at the end of deployment in Afghanistan. What is more, they only have 100 weeks in which to do it.

Turkey is the hub for most of the operation which brings the German force in Afghanistan full circle. It was 11 years ago that the first detachment flew via the Turkish port-city of Trabzon in a Transall cargo plane on its way to the Hindu Kush.

The containers, military material of all kinds and the vehicles will be funnelled back to Germany via Turkey up until the end of 2014.

The operation will take place in two stages. The first leg will be by air from the Bundeswehr armed forces HQ at Mazar-e-Sharif as far as Trabzon. The second leg back home again will be mainly by sea from the Black Sea port.

Bound for Germany is a wide range of equipment ranging from machine-guns to steel lockers and computers.

Current planning envisages around 85% of the material being shipped via Trabzon. “The Bundeswehr has never had an operation on this scale,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriele Voyé, a logistics expert with the Bundeswehr at Geltow near Potsdam. Up to 300 specialists will be stationed in Afghanistan itself to ensure that operation “Relocation”, as the Bundeswehr terms it, goes ahead smoothly.

Their main task is to speed through the movement of material at the Bundeswehr HQ in northern Afghanistan.

Everything is being gathered there — from armoured cars to field kitchens — indeed the entire gamut of items which have seen service over the last decade. Each piece of equipment is being catalogued, packed for despatch and disinfected in order to rule out animal diseases being imported into Germany.

For the trip to Trabzon, the Bundeswehr has hired a small fleet of transport aircraft from Russian and Ukrainian makers Antonov und Ilyushin.

The giant planes are more than twice the size of the Germans’ own planes. The hold of an Antonov is 37m long — more than enough to accommodate two Marder armoured infantry vehicles.

Up to 200 soldiers will secure the Trabzon hub during the operation. The Bundeswehr has rented 30,000 sq m of quayside storage. “The plan is that a ship will leave here roughly once every three months,” said a Bundeswehr spokesman in Trabzon.

Some 300 Bundeswehr vehicles can fit onto a freighter which will set off for Germany via the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the North Sea.

The trips will take around two weeks. Some equipment with sensitive technology, which must not fall into the wrong hands, cannot be shipped home via Turkey.

Arms, armoured vehicles and related items will be flown directly from Mazar-e-Sharif to Germany.

Weapons account for only 5% of the shipment volume. The cheapest way of getting the machinery back to Germany is by road, but this method plays little more than a symbolic role.

After lengthy negotiations, Nato last year reached deals with neighbouring Uzbekistan and with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on transit rights. Despite that accord, scarcely more than 10% of the Bundeswehr equipment will be routed this way, moving via Latvia and finally by roll-on-roll-off ferry from the Baltic port of Klaipeda.

Sending equipment by land and sea costs only a tenth of the air-freight charges, but it takes five weeks to complete the trip.

Not only that, en route from Afghanistan to Germany are five national borders to be crossed, which makes it difficult to compile a reliable timetable. “We are very much dependent on the speed of transit through the individual countries,” said logistics expert Voyé.

One way around this would be to use the Pakistan port of Karachi, reached via the Khyber Pass, but this would only really make sense for material from the Afghan capital Kabul, where the Bundeswehr has only a modest presence.

It is still not clear just how much equipment will end up back in Germany. This is down to a lack of political certainty over Germany’s post-2014 role in Afghanistan when Berlin’s authorisation for the Nato military operation expires.

Berlin has offered to keep training officers and advisers in Afghanistan, but no firm decision on the matter has been made. German Defence Minister Thomas de Mazière appeared to be keeping his options open when he spoke during his last visit in March.

He said soldiers should ponder a number of possible scenarios. “They include the option that we switch off all the lights here on December 31, 2014, through to a continued presence of some kind in the north and in Kabul and all the eventualities in-between.”

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Need a Lift? - MV-22B Osprey - external load training

Need a Lift? - MV-22B Osprey - external load training | D-FENS | Scoop.it
Landing support specialists back away after connecting a Humvee to a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey during external lift training at Subic Bay, Philippines, during exercise Freedom Banner 2013.
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DCS: UH-1H Huey Promo - helicopter combat flight simulator

A promo clip for Digital Combat Simulator: UH-1H Huey - a realistic helicopter combat flight simulator for the PC.

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RNZAF UH-1H Helicopter - 2013

UH-1H Iroquois Helicopter flying at Classic Fighters Airshow 2013, NZ.

Christian Albrecht's insight:

...in service with the RNZAF since 1966!

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Spain deploys Tiger attack helicopters to Afghanistan - EC665

Spain deploys Tiger attack helicopters to Afghanistan - EC665 | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Despite ISAF operations winding down, Spain has sent three Eurocopter Tiger HAP attack helicopters to Afghanistan in an effort to bolster its helicopter forces which have been present in Regional Command-West since late 2004.

The aircraft arrived at Herat on 28 March on board a chartered Antonov An-124 cargo plane. Two rotations of four months each are currently planned, both of which will be manned by 32 staff, maintenance and aircrew personnel from the 1st Attack Helicopter Battalion, which is based at Almagro in peacetime.

The deployment has been preceded by an intense pre-deployment training programme during which Tiger’s gunnery capabilities and self-protection features were thoroughly tested.

Training also involved a series of exercises in mountainous terrain to prepare Spanish Tiger aircrews for the hot and high conditions which will be encountered during operations in Afghanistan.

The Spanish Tiger helicopters are scheduled to operate alongside three Boeing CH-47D Chinook and three Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar transport helicopters which have been stationed at Herat for some time. After a short familiarisation period, the new attack helicopters will be used for armed reconnaissance, escort, close combat attack and rotary wing close air support duties.

General Francisco Javier Sancho, chief of the Spanish army aviation corps, explained that the advent of the Tigers was intended to provide ground troops greater protection during the critical withdrawal phase.

Spain is the third country to send Tiger helicopters to Afghanistan, after France and Germany. France recently returned the last of its Tiger attack helicopters from the country while Germany’s Tigers reached operational capability in Regional Command-North on 30 January. 

Via Jhon Casabetis
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New RAF CH-47 Chinook Mk6 completes first flight

New RAF CH-47 Chinook Mk6 completes first flight | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Boeing has revealed that the first flight of the newest CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter for the Royal Air Force (RAF) took place on 15 March at the Boeing helicopter facility near Philadelphia. The successful flight took place ahead of schedule and confirmed initial airworthiness for the Mk6 Chinook.

The Mk6 Chinook features advanced technology including UK-specific avionics, a forward-looking infrared system, and interoperable communication and navigation equipment. It is undergoing comprehensive testing in Mesa, Arizona in the US, before delivery to the UK later in 2013. 

Capt. David Childs, Chinook team leader, UK Defence Equipment & Support, said: ‘This is a truly impressive achievement for both Boeing and the project team. To see the first aircraft fly less than 20 months after contract signature is a source of great pride for all those involved in this key project.’

The UK Ministry of Defence announced that it would purchase 14 new Mk6 Chinook aircraft in August 2011. The aircraft will join the RAF’s current Chinook fleet of 46 aircraft. The existing fleet is undergoing an upgrade programme as part of Project Julius to provide a new cockpit, upgraded engines, and a common configuration which will ensure coherence with the new Mk6 aircraft. The first upgraded Mk4 Chinook helicopters deployed to Afghanistan in late November 2012.

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Eurocopter develops ‘interim fix’ for EC225 main gearbox issue

Eurocopter develops ‘interim fix’ for EC225 main gearbox issue | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Eurocopter has identified both an interim fix and what it believes could be the final solution to the gearbox problems that have been plaguing the EC225 fleet.


Cracks in the main gearbox bevel gear shafts forced the ditching of two EC225s in the North Sea during 2012 and since October Eurocopter has been struggling to discover the root cause behind the problem.


However, speaking to reporters in Marignane on 17 April, outgoing CEO Lutz Bertling said the company’s investigation was at a point that he was confident the aircraft would be able to return to service during the third quarter of 2013.


Eurocopter has been able to replicate the initiation of the cracks in eight shafts in ground tests and is now studying the crack propagation in flight tests.


Bertling said the tests had demonstrated that any final fix will require a redesign of the bevel gear shaft while an interim solution, which should allow North Sea operators to return the aircraft to service, is currently under validation by EASA and the relevant national civil aviation authorities.

‘The final fix will include partial changes in the design of the shaft. It is not a very significant change – we can do it with the same raw material. The root cause is residual stresses from the manufacturing process combined with… other things. But the final fix is a slight change of the design,’ Bertling said.

‘The immediate fix consists of additional safety barriers which we are currently discussing with the regulators. We have safety barriers which will allow [operators] to use the aircraft in its full flight envelope but these safety barriers are still in discussion with the regulators.’


While Bertling would not outline the precise details of this interim fix until it has been validated, Shephardunderstands it centres on a software update to the EC225’s HUMS system and the fitting of additional warning indicators.

One company source said that retrofit kits have now been developed for the interim fix and they will be rolled out across the affected fleet free-of-charge once the solution has been certified.


Looking back on his six-and-a-half years in charge, Bertling said the issue had been the biggest technical issue confronted by the company in terms of the adverse effect it had had on operators.


‘We never had a technical issue that was impacting our customers and passengers that much like the EC225 issue. Clearly there was a lack of transport capacity to and from the rigs. So the impact on the customer base and the passengers was more significant than we had ever had, that was clear.’


He noted that the crack was caused by unavoidable corrosion of the bevel gear shaft in combination with a ‘very specific’ set of circumstances, in a ‘worst of worst case scenario’.


Despite the issue, Eurocopter continues to ramp up production of the EC225/725 Super Puma family and is introducing two flow lines, rather than the current static cell system, to increase production to 60 aircraft per year.

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US Army gives financial perspective on future helicopter programmes

The head of the US Army’s PEO Aviation has offered insight into the force’s upcoming helicopter development programmes in light of pressure to reduce procurement spending. 

Maj Gen William Crosby told the AAAA Professional Forum and Exposition in Ft Worth on 12 April that the PEO has a budget of some $8 billion per year but expects this to even out in the future as pressure is placed on military spending.  

‘There are now billions of dollars of shortfall just in this year,’ Crosby explained. ‘We grew up to that $8 billion, but when we started this we were down in the three [billion dollar] range. 

‘So somewhere in that middle is where we’re going to balance out. There are ways to manage through this. At the same time we’re doing that there’s a plethora of programmes that need to come forward and be put into that…affordability pattern.  

‘We’ve got five or six programmes that we’re looking out to for the future and we have to figure out where they will be moved into this balanced portfolio.’

He said that the easiest thing to do would be to cut programmes, although in years to come the army would be looking for the next system to fill the gaps that the army anticipates.  

‘As we approach this as leaders we have to propel ourselves to maintain balance across the portfolio,’ Crosby explained. ‘As we look at the affordability of the programmes…and systems, we’re looking at Future Vertical Lift; systems that we need to invest in now in order to be available.

‘When do we need that system and when does technology matter?’ 

The sustainment of systems until the new capabilities come into service is an area of concern for army aviation, as well as accommodating technology leaps including the introduction of manned-unmanned teaming so future rotary platforms can operate with UAVs.  

‘In the affordability matrix we’ve got to look at our future vertical lift, that technology that is going to be that next system. We made a conscious decision to look at the medium utility variant and the number one compelling need is the scout,’ he continued. ‘75% of our fleet is in the attack utility variant.’

The Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) programme is another area of financial interest: ‘Do we buy something new, or do we do…an extension programme? There’s the full gamete of options and I know many are poised and ready to execute.’

Crosby said that the challenges the army is facing are changing, hence the indecisiveness on the future of the AAS programme and whether it will be a brand new aircraft for the army or a re-hashed Kiowa Warrior.  

‘So what we’re doing now is taking a step back and not making a decision just to rush to failure,’ he said. ‘Let’s think our way through this and make sure it is affordable across the portfolio. It is critical that we do that now. Because what if we don’t do that? Then we send it to industry partners and you waste your precious IR&D on something that we’re not able to pursue.’

Another effort is the improved turbo engine programme, which he said is ‘moving forward’, although he also pointed out that it needs to be assessed within the ‘affordability matrix’ of army aviation. 

‘The biggest message I get continuously is when things get tight with budgets we draw up walls and we start worrying about our own individual areas of expertise,’ he continued. ‘I think to get through something like this… we as leaders need to knock those walls down to be open and communicate.’

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Bell Helicopter's New Tiltrotor Joins Field to Replace Army's Chopper Fleet - V-280 Valor - JMR - FVL

Bell Helicopter's New Tiltrotor Joins Field to Replace Army's Chopper Fleet - V-280 Valor - JMR - FVL | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The competition for the U.S. Army’s future vertical lift aircraft gained another competitor April 10 when Bell Helicopter unveiled its follow-on to the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor. 

Bell, which builds the Kiowa Warrior aerial scout helicopter and the V-22 Osprey for the U.S. military, unveiled the V-280 “Valor” at the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual symposium in Ft. Worth, Texas. 

The aircraft is currently in the design concept phase and has not yet flown. The “third-generation” tiltrotor should be operational by 2017, company officials said.  

The future vertical lift program would replace most of the Army's aging helicopters. “It is clear that a tiltrotor is best for the FVL,” John Garrison, president and CEO of Bell, said during an unveiling event April 11. “And we have 55 years' experience with tiltrotor technology. This is not new technology. We’ve been at this for quite some time."

Most notable about the design is its non-rotating, fixed engines placed at the aircraft’s wing tips, like the Osprey. Unlike the Osprey, only the V-280’s rotors pivot up and down to allow vertical flight. This makes the aircraft more stable in hover mode and gives it better controllability than its predecessor, Bell officials said. 

The Valor will have a cruise speed of 280 knots and a combat range of 500 to 800 nautical miles, depending on load and conditions. It is also self-deployable, unlike the Osprey, which must be shipped or flown aboard another aircraft when deployed overseas.

The Army’s goal is to develop a family of scalable helicopter designs that have common parts and systems. It is seeking a medium variant first, which will replace around 60 percent of its rotorcraft fleet. It will also fulfill the Army’s desired performance parameters of operating at 6,000 feet on a 95-degree Fahrenheit day. 

The Valor is designed to fly with a crew of four and up to 11 passengers, which lands it squarely in that medium-class utility category. It has 6-foot-wide doors on either side of its fuselage to allow troops easy entry and exit.

“Tiltrotor is the only vertical lift platform that can rapidly self-deploy to any theater," said Mitch Snyder, executive vice-president for military programs at Bell Helicopter. 

But the Valor must beat out several other contenders for the FVL contract, some of which are further along in development.  The makers of the Apache and Black Hawk — Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., respectively — are teaming up to build a demonstrator based on Sikorsky’s X2. 

The X2 — a compound helicopter with coaxial rotors and a pusher-propeller at the rear — has flown at speeds of up to 250 knots in level flight. 

It was developed into the S-97 Raider, Sikorsky’s entry for the ongoing armed aerial scout competition to replace the Kiowa Warrior. The earliest the company will have a Raider prototype is 2014. 

AVX also submitted a proposal for an FVL demonstrator with coaxial rotors and twin ducted fans that provide better steering and some additional forward power. Since its founding in 2005, Ft. Worth, Texas-based AVX has picked up a $4 million contract from the Army to conduct a study on the FVL concept but hasn’t produced a prototype based on its designs.

EADS North America also responded to the Army’s FVL solicitation, but company officials have not detailed what they will offer. It is expected EADS will propose a design based on Eurocopter’s X3 demonstrator. The X3, a compound helicopter with a five-bladed main rotor and two short wings fitted with propellers, has flown at a top speed of 232 knots.

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The Armed Aerial Scout by EADS North America - American Eurocopter - EC145 - AAS-72X+

Official press release:

Some promised. We delivered. The AAS-72X+ is the only Armed Aerial Scout offering with flight-proven high/hot performance and Army-verified affordability. And it will be delivered rapidly by the same American workforce that has produced more than 250 UH-72A Lakotas, all on time and on budget. Army aviators can't afford to gamble on a promise. It's time for an aircraft they can believe in -- the AAS-72X+.

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Dutch government opts to store F-35 test aircraft

Dutch government opts to store F-35 test aircraft | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The Netherlands is to place its Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft into temporary storage, pending a final decision on how to replace its air force's Lockheed F-16 fighters.

Newly appointed defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert announced the decision to park the test assets in a letter to the Dutch parliament on 4 April. A first example - delivered in late 2012 - and a second, expected to be handed over in mid-2013, will be stored at Edwards AFB, California, where they will be kept in airworthy condition and flown occasionally by US Air Force pilots. The effects of the decision will be discussed with the F-35 Joint Program Office.


On 25 April, a meeting of the Dutch parliament regarding the F-16 replacement will be held, and with the current coalition it is uncertain which way the decision will go. The coalition partners say a decision on the F-35 will be taken before the end of this year.

In an interview, Hennis-Plasschaert said that her office was open for all interested manufacturers. This would enable Boeing to promote the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab the Gripen E, although neither Dassault nor the Eurofighter consortium have confirmed whether they will offer their respective Rafale and Typhoon products in advance of a formal competitive process being launched.

The Netherlands ordered two F-35As to participate in US-led initial operational test and evaluation of the Joint Strike Fighter. The Hague says its operational phase of this activity is due to commence during 2015.

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Australian Defence Force evaluating the Selex ES ‘VigilX’ enhanced vision system

Australian Defence Force  evaluating the Selex ES ‘VigilX’ enhanced vision system | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is evaluating the Selex ES ‘VigilX’ enhanced vision system, which is designed to solve the enduring problem of landing a helicopter in degraded visual environments (DVE).

The system was formally selected by the Australian Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO) as part of technology demonstration to identify a solution that integrates a number of sensors to provide a ‘through the hull’ view outside the aircraft.

Speaking to Shephard at the LAAD 2013 exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, Selex ES executive director for marketing Gianpiero Lorandi said the ADF was assessing the utility of the VigilX system for possible fielding across the army and navy’s fleet of helicopters.  

‘This is a really key award for us and is the sort of contract that would usually go to a domestic company. So the fact we have been brought on board is an indication of how mature the technology is,’ Lorandi said.

VigilX pulls together multiple feeds from sensors placed around the aircraft to provide an integrated panoramic image to the crew’s helmet-mounted displays. 

The system being trialled by the ADF includes the Cassidian Hellas LIDAR as well as infrared, low light and visible band TV cameras. The imagery can also be displayed on head-up displays and cockpit multi-functional displays.

Lorandi noted that if the system was chosen for wider fielding, Selex ES would establish manufacturing capabilities with a domestic partner. The demonstration contract is being primed by Rheinmetall Simulation Australia.

Meanwhile, Selex ES used the exhibition to announce the signing of an MoU for a new joint venture with AEL Sistemas, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems.

The JV will initially cover the in-country maintenance of the Gabbiano T-20 radar provided for the KC-390 transport aircraft, although is expected to expand into other areas as needed.

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US Army anticipates next Chinook contract signing - CH-47

US Army anticipates next Chinook contract signing - CH-47 | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The US Army anticipates signing the next multi-year contract for the CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter in May, according to the army’s PM of cargo helicopters. 

Following a negotiated settlement between the army and Boeing in December, the documentation is currently being processed that will lead to an award, Col Robert Marion, told a media briefing during the Army Aviation Association of America Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth on 11 April.  

‘In terms of execution in multi-year one, we’re really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve and continue to maintain for the last several years,’ Marion explained. ‘For multi-year two the good news is from working with Boeing we achieved our negotiated settlement in December.’

Through the negotiations some $810 million of savings were made based on a single year estimate, he said, which worked out to result in 19.2% of savings. 

‘So that was a really big deal for the army,’ Marion continued. ‘We’re processing all of the documentation through the contracting and programme management channels through the army and OST, and we’re on schedule to award that contract next month.

‘The authorisations and appropriations have come through so things are in fine shape for that. So despite the challenges we had initially with budgets in terms of appropriations, that’s been resolved and now we’re ready to award on schedule next month. So good news in that area.’

Marion also praised the efforts of the army and Boeing in executing the multi-year one contract currently underway, which has seen aircraft deployed to Afghanistan. 

‘As we go through and do our after-action reports and talk to units we continue to get superior reviews of the aircraft on how it’s helping those units,’ he said. 

Meanwhile, regarding the presidential budget that was sent to Congress on 10 April, Marion said that the figures were within expectations from a Chinook operating perspective.

‘Yesterday’s budget came out and it was no great surprise to us from a cargo perspective,’ he said. ‘Those numbers are the same numbers we projected in our multi-year. 

‘We saw what we expected to see and all of the production programmes are taking a percentage cut off what they originally intended to have, but we were able to make adjustments and we’re not going to have any issues executing our multi-year with the numbers that came out. So no surprise for us; we were prepared for that.’  

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AgustaWestland enters AAS fray - Armed Aerial Scout - AW169

AgustaWestland enters AAS fray - Armed Aerial Scout - AW169 | D-FENS | Scoop.it

AgustaWestland has launched its offering for the US Army’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) programme, the AW169 AAS.

Displayed for the first time during the AAAA 2013 Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, the platform is based on a design that the company has been working on for the commercial and military market, and is the first military outing for the aircraft.

‘The 169 programme has its genesis around three years ago and it’s culminated with four aircraft flying. This will lead to certification in 2014,’ Tony Duthie, head of marketing development at AgustaWestland, told Shephard. ‘From the offset it was designed to meet the needs of the commercial and military markets; we have a modern start point going into the military market.’

The aircraft has advanced PW210A twin engines, which Duthie said are ideal for operations in hot and high environments, a 10,000lb range, high speeds of 135kts, a 550km range and three hour endurance.

It also has a glass cockpit developed in part with Rockwell Collins that has touch screen displays, which includes an open architecture for future integration and control of UAVs and weapon systems.

The weapon systems have not yet been specified by the army for the programme, although the company anticipates the weapons on-board the Kiowa Warrior that AAS will replace will be carried forward to the new platform, including Hellfire missiles.

‘This is the first programme in which we’ve directed the military variant and we have been working with the army for the last five-six years,’ Duthie continued. ‘We know the army price point and we would be foolish to put forward something that wouldn’t meet this in an economically restrained environment.’

He said that the target markets for which the aircraft is aimed are all price-sensitive, including SAR, oil and gas and VIP, and therefore the concept of the platform is designed to an economic design.

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"Bell Helicopter" Unveils Third-Gen Tiltrotor Concept

"Bell Helicopter" Unveils Third-Gen Tiltrotor Concept | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Bell Helicopter says it has taken lessons learned from the V-22 Osprey and is incorporating them into the third-generation tiltrotor it is offering for the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift requirement.

The V-280 Valor, being unveiled at the Army Aviation Association of America convention in Fort Worth this week, is a clean sheet design to meet the Army’s medium-size requirement for as many as 4,000 aircraft in the coming years, replacing both the UH-60 Black Hawk and the AH-64 Apache in the utility and attack roles. In delivering a tiltrotor, Bell is putting its emphasis on speed, range and productivity, claiming the tiltrotor will be twice as productive as the conventional designs and some of the hybrids that have emerged from its competitors.

“Tiltrotor is the most effective, it maximizes the capability through speed and range and as distances increase, that productivity increases,” says Chris Gehler, business development manager for FVL at Bell.

The most obvious change comes in the configuration of the engines. Rather than tilting pods, the engines remain fixed horizontal with the rotor and drive system encased in a tilting pod. According to Bell this eliminates concerns about ingress and egress of troops from the side doors and increases the field of fire for the door gunners when on approach to a hostile landing zone. It may also help lower development risk, reducing the need to certify engine operation at different angles. Bell is working to give the V-280 lower rotor disk loading, which will in turn reduces the level of downwash. The company is confident that the aircraft will have a downwash somewhere between that of the V-22 and a conventional helicopter.

A key part of the development to reduce cost is to simplify tiltrotor designs compared to the V-22. With this in mind, the V-280 features a straight wing instead of the forward-swept wing of the Osprey. Furthermore, Bell plans to use what it calls Large Cell Carbon Core technology, which allows the wing to be produced in one large piece, reducing weight and manufacturing costs. Critically, the use of the technology will allow any damage to be detected immediately.

As a result, base models of the V-280 will not have the complex wing-folding mechanisms needed by the Osprey for its maritime mission. The aircraft will be able to self-deploy over 2,100 mi. to meet a stipulated need to self-ferry over long distances.

“Make the shift to the Pacific region ... and in terms of what it’s going to be able to do with operational reach and having smaller, leaner forces, it is a key enabler,” adds Keith Flail, director of FVL at Bell.

Bell has illustrated two versions of the aircraft in its briefings at Quad-A: the utility variant capable of carrying 11 passengers and four crew, and an attack variant using the same fuselage that would presumably replace the AH-64 Apache. Artist’s impressions show the attack aircraft being able to carry precision guided weapons in a payload bay as well as under the wings. A turreted gun would fit under the nose.

With Boeing now working with Sikorsky on providing an FVL solution using Sikorsky’s X2 compound technology, Bell is looking for a new partner with which to share the program. The company says it is in discussions with other “aerospace partners” and that those discussions are continuing, but refused to put a timeline on any announcement.

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"Bell Helicopter" unveils next-generation tiltrotor

"Bell Helicopter" unveils next-generation tiltrotor | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Bell Helicopter has introduced the V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft as its offering for the Joint Multi Role (JMR) technology demonstrator phase of the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) helicopter programme.

Launched during the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual exhibition in Fort Worth on 10 April, the platform is a new concept aircraft that derives from the company’s experience in developing the V-22 tiltrotor operational with the USAF and USMC. 

‘We believe the future of Future Vertical Lift is in the near, not distant, future,’ John Garrison, CEO and president of Bell, said at the launch. ‘The customer has been very clear in looking for speed, range, payload, reliability and survivability.’

The ultimate aim of the programme is to replace the Black Hawk utility and Apache attack aircraft, and the TD stage will see the development of  the utility variant initially with the attack platform developed alongside it.

Despite the army specification requiring speeds of 230kts from the design, the V-280 is able to travel at speeds of 280kts. It also has a triple redundant fly-by-wire control system, can carry 11 passengers and two pilot/two crew chiefs, has an advanced rotor and drive system, non-rotating fixed engines, and a conventional retractable landing gear.

It also has 'army-centric' large side doors with outward facing seats, a differentiator to the V-22, which enables army personnel to deploy quickly. 

The army is looking for scalability and commonality, which Bell believes it has demonstrated in designs starting from UAV-sized up to the V-22.

‘This is combat-proven technology [demonstrated in] the V-22,’ Garrison continued. ‘We are absolutely confident about the scalability of this.’

However, he pointed out that it is a ‘clean sheet design’ and is being designed specifically for the mission needs of the army: ‘It is designed to be the medium lift helicopter for this mission set.’

The company is currently developing a full-scale model of the aircraft, which it will roll out to the army by June/July this year, ending at the AUSA exhibition in October. The first flight of the utility variant is expected to be carried out ‘early 2017’. 

Garrison did not go into details about partners on the programme, although he said that an announcement is pending regarding this. ‘We’re being sought after pretty aggressively to partner at this time,’ he said.

Boeing, Bell’s partner on the V-22 aircraft, announced in March that it had teamed with Sikorsky for the TD phase of the programme. 

Mitch Snyder, executive VP for military programmes at Bell, told Shephard that although the Sikorsky/Boeing team had flown its concept already, it is only a first generation design and therefore not as advanced as the Valor. 

‘The Bell-Boeing team is still very strong but the tiltrotor design is still Bell’s,’ Snyder reiterated.

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Bell V-280 Valor -- The Future of Vertical Lift Takes Flight

The Bell V-280 Valor, Bell Helicopter's third-generation-tiltrotor, offers the U.S. Army the highest levels of maturity and technical readiness. With its U.S. Army-centric design, the Bell V-280 has the capacity to perform a multitude of missions with unparalleled speed and agility. The Bell V-280's clean sheet design reduces complexity compared to previous generation tiltrotors, with fewer parts, as well as non-rotating, fixed engines. The Valor delivers the best value in procurement, operations and support, and force structure, providing increased maintainability, component reliability and systems designed to reduce operational and support costs.

Visit BellV280.com for more details

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Bell unveils V-280 Valor - Joint Multi-Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL)

Bell Helicopter is unveiling a new third generation tilt-rotor aircraft concept called the V-280 Valor, which it is pitching for the US Army's Joint Multi-Role (JMR)/Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme.

The army hopes to field a new medium-lift rotorcraft to replace its fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks in the 2030s developed under its FVL effort. But the service does not simply want a new helicopter; it hopes to induct "leap-ahead" technologies that would enable its future rotorcraft to cruise at speeds approaching 230kts (426km/h). To this end, the army has launched a JMR technology demonstration effort and will select one or more companies to build a flying prototype that would be expected to take to the air in 2017.

While Bell's V-22 Osprey partner Boeing is teaming with rival Sikorsky to pitch a high-speed compound helicopter design based on that company's X-2 prototype, Bell has opted to pursue what it calls a third generation tilt-rotor.

Called the V-280, the Bell concept features a V-tail, a large cell carbon core wing and a composite fuselage. Unlike the older V-22 design, the engines do not move, only the rotor-system tilts, Bell says. Coupled with a fly-by-wire system, the aircraft should have excellent high and low-speed handling qualities, the company says.

The V-280 will be able to cruise efficiently at 280kts (519km/h) carrying 11 passengers comfortably with a mission radius of over 250nm (463km).

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Air Combat Command stands down units due to budget cuts

The United States Air Force will begin to stand down active duty combat units starting today to ensure the remaining units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year.

The stand down is the result of cuts to the command's operations and maintenance account, which must be implemented in part by flying approximately 45,000 fewer training hours between now and October 1 than previously scheduled. 

ACC, as the Air Force's lead for Combat Air Forces, manages the flying-hour programs for four major commands. This decision to stand down or curtail operations affects about one-third of the active-duty CAF aircraft--including those assigned to fighter, bomber, aggressor and airborne warning and control squadrons--stationed in the United States, Europe and the Pacific.

"We must implement a tiered readiness concept where only the units preparing to deploy in support of major operations like Afghanistan are fully mission capable," said Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander. "Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions."

"Historically, the Air Force has not operated under a tiered readiness construct because of the need to respond to any crisis within a matter of hours or days," Hostage said. "The current situation means we're accepting the risk that combat airpower may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur."

Some units currently deployed--including A-10s, B-1s, F-16s and F-22s--will stand down after they return from their deployments. The remaining units will stand down operations on April 9. Active-duty aircrews assigned to Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard A-10 or F-16 squadrons under an arrangement known as "active associations" will also stop flying.

The stand down will remain in effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013 barring any changes to current levels of funding. "We're entering uncharted territory in terms of how we've had to take this year's cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts," Hostage said. "Remaining as mission-ready as possible for combatant commanders is our priority, and we're prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met."

Units that are stood down will shift their emphasis to ground training. They will use flight simulators to the extent possible within existing contracts, and conduct academic training to maintain basic skills and knowledge of their aircraft. As funding allows, aircrews will also complete formal ground training courses, conduct non-flying exercises and improve local flying-related programs and guidance. 

Maintainers will complete upgrade training and clear up backlogs of scheduled inspections and maintenance as possible given budget impacts in other areas, such as stock of spare parts.

Although each weapon system is unique, on average aircrews lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of not flying. It generally takes 60 to 90 days to conduct the training needed to return aircrews to mission-ready status, and the time and cost associated with that retraining increases the longer that crews stay on the ground.
"This will have a significant and multi-year impact on our operational readiness," Hostage said. "But right now, there is no other acceptable way to implement these cuts."

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Reduced Flying Hours Forces USAF To Ground 17 Combat Air Squadrons

Reduced Flying Hours Forces USAF To Ground 17 Combat Air Squadrons | D-FENS | Scoop.it

The U.S. Air Force will begin grounding combat air squadrons in response to forced spending cuts that have eliminated more than 44,000 flying hours through September, according to internal documents obtained by Air Force Times.

The Air Force’s budget for flying hours was reduced by $591 million for the remainder of fiscal 2013, making it impossible to keep all squadrons ready for combat, according to an April 5 memo signed by Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, director of operations for Air Combat Command. The across-the board spending cuts, called sequestration, took effect March 1 when Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

Seventeen combat-coded squadrons will stand down effective Tuesday or upon their return from deployments, according to the documents. The Air Force will distribute 241,496 flying hours that are funded to squadrons that will be kept combat ready or at a reduced readiness level called “basic mission capable” for part or all of the remaining months in fiscal 2013, the documents said.

“Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions,” ACC Commander Gen. Mike Hostage said in a statement.

The grounding includes F-22s from the 1st Fighter Wing’s 94th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. The squadron is returning from a deployment to the Pacific where airmen participated in a high-profile exercise in South Korea. Other squadrons to stand down when they return to the U.S. include F-16s from the 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, which is returning from a deployment in the Pacific; B-1B Lancers from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.; and A-10s from the 354th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

The other grounded units include B-52s from the 2nd and 5th Bomb Wings, F-15Es from the 336th, 492nd, 494th and 391s Fighter Squadrons; F-16s from the 77th Fighter Squadron, 555th Fighter Squadron, 18th Aggressor Squadron and the Thunderbirds; and A-10s from the 81st Fighter Squadron, which will close as a result of the fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

Grounded associate units — Active units sharing aircraft with Air National Guard and Reserve units — include the 158th, 169th, 187th, 442nd and 917th squadrons.

Any flying hours not used by the grounded squadrons will be reallocated to meet Air Combat Command requirements. Additionally, all combat aircraft will stand down the last seven operation and maintenance days in September, the memo said.

“Historically, the Air Force has not operated under a tiered readiness construct because of the need to respond to any crisis within a matter of hours or days,” Hostage said in the statement. “The current situation means we’re accepting the risk that combat airpower may not be ready to respond immediately to new contingencies as they occur.”

Air Force officials had warned that mandatory budget cuts would lead to a reduction of flying hours by 18 percent, with readiness dropping to “sub-optimal levels,” according to information provided to Congress. The drop in flying hours would mean that it could take up to six months to repair the damage to readiness, the Air Force warned lawmakers in a February presentation.

Average aircrews lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of being grounded, and it takes from 60 to 90 days to conduct training to return aircrews o mission-ready status, according to Air Combat Command

“We’re entering uncharted territory in terms of how we’ve had to take this year’s cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts,” Hostage said. “Remaining as mission-ready as possible for combatant commanders is our priority, and we’re prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met.”


Air Combat Command officials announced a stand down and reallocation of flying hours for the rest of the fiscal year due to mandatory budget cuts. The limitation of flying hours means squadrons will stand down or maintain readiness at the reduced “basic mission capable” level, while others will remain at full “combat mission ready.”

The affected aircraft and units, by airframe:


94th Fighter Squadron — Grounded April 9

27th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September

3rd Fighter Wing — Two squadrons combat mission ready through September

15th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

49th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

F-15 C/D

67th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September

44th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through July, then Combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September


336th Fighter Squadron — Grounded April 9

335th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing — Two squadrons stand down April 9

391st Fighter Squadron — Stands down April 9

F-16 C/D

8th Fighter Wing — Two squadrons combat mission ready through September

77th Fighter Squadron — Stands down April 9

55th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

79th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through July, then combat mission ready through September

555th Fighter Squadron — Stands down April 9

510th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

13th Fighter Squadron — Combat mission ready through September

14th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September

51st Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

57th Wing — One squadron (Thunderbirds) stands down April 9

158th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

169th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

187th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

354th Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

4th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable until redeployment

421st Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through September


75th Fighter Squadron — Basic mission capable through July, then combat mission ready through September

51st Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

52nd Fighter Wing — Closing

442nd Fighter Wing — One squadron stands down April 9

917th Wing — One squadron stands down April 9


18th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

48th Fighter Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September


7th Bomb Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September

2nd Bomb Wing — Two squadrons stand down April 9


509th Bomb Wing — Two squadrons combat mission ready through September


2nd Bomb Wing — One squadron stand down April 9

5th Bomb Wing — Two combat squadrons combat mission ready through September


2nd Bomb Wing — Basic mission capable through September

18th Wing — One squadron basic mission capable through September

552nd Air Control Wing — One squadron basic mission capable through September


55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September


55 Electronic Combat Group — One squadron combat mission ready through September


55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September


55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September


55th Wing — One squadron combat mission ready through September


55th Wing — One squadron basic mission capable through September


55th Wing (training) — One squadron basic mission capable through September


55th Wing. — One squadron combat mission ready through September

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Abschied vom Waffensystem F-4F Phantom - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund - VIDEO

Abschied vom Waffensystem F-4F Phantom  - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund - VIDEO | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Bei  der Bundesluftwaffe rückt 40 Jahre nach Indienststellung der Abschied vom Waffensystem F-4F Phantom näher. Die letzten 14 Kampfjets dieses Typs sind im „Richthofen“-Geschwader in Wittmund im Einsatz.  



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Neuer Lack für alte Kampfjets | F-4 Phantom - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund

Neuer Lack für alte Kampfjets | F-4 Phantom - "Pharewell"- JG 71 Richthofen - Wittmund | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Mit einem dreitägigen Programm verabschiedet das Jagdgeschwader 71 „Richthofen“ in Wittmund vom 28. bis 30. Juni die F-4F Phantom: Der Kampfjet war mehr als 40 Jahre lang wesentlicher Bestandteil der Luftverteidigung in Europa. Das Richthofen-Geschwader ist das letzte Geschwader, das noch Phantoms fliegt.

2000 Anmeldungen

Am 30. Juni machen die letzten 14 Kampfjets dieses Typs endgültig den Abflug und damit Platz für den Eurofighter. 20 Maschinen dieses Typs sollen bis 2018 in Wittmund stationiert werden.

Der Abschied von der Phantom wird in Wittmund unter dem Motto „Phantom pharewell“ gefeiert: Am Freitag, 28. Juni, findet ein so genannter Spotterday auf dem Flugplatz statt. Mehr als 2000 Anmeldungen von Fotografen sind dazu schon beim Geschwader eingegangen – den weitesten Weg nimmt ein Phantom-Fan aus Chicago auf sich, so Oberst Gerd Roubal, Kommodore des Jagdgeschwaders 71.

Am Sonnabend, 29. Juni, findet ab 10 Uhr ein Tag der offenen Tür statt: Das Jagdgeschwader 71 „R“ bietet neben der Gelegenheit zur Besichtigung der Phantoms und vieler Gastflugzeuge befreundeter Verbände und Nationen auch Rundflüge durch die Flugsportgruppe JG 71 „R“ sowie Flugvorführungen an. Zu sehen sind unter anderem Phantoms in Sonderlackierung: Zur Außerdienststellung des Kampfjets wurden sie auf dem Fliegerhorst Upjever in den Grautönen der vergangenen 40 Jahre lackiert. Eine dieser Phantom wird später auf dem Fliegerhorst Wittmund ausgestellt.

Zu diesem Tag werden bis zu 130 000 Besucher erwartet. Er endet mit einem Hallenfest ab 19 Uhr.

Den Abschluss der Feierlichkeiten bildet am Sonntagabend, 30. Juni, eine Serenade mit dem Luftwaffenmusikkorps 3 aus Münster ab 21 Uhr auf dem Marktplatz in Wittmund. Bereits ab April sollen auf dem Fliegerhorst die ersten Eurofighter eingesetzt werden.

Sechs Flugzeuge

Roubal zufolge wird im Mai der Eurofighter-Betrieb mit bis zu sechs Flugzeugen aufgenommen und ab Juni soll neben den F 4 Phantoms bereits eine „Schatten-Alarmrotte“ der neuen Jets mitlaufen.

Mit Außerdienststellung der Phantom wird das Geschwader aufgelöst und zur taktischen Luftwaffengruppe. Mit zunehmender Zahl von Eurofightern in den nächsten Jahren soll wieder ein vollständiges Geschwader entstehen.

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Kaman Reorganizes Helicopter Division Around Strengths - K-MAX® UAS - remote controlled cargo delivery

Kaman Reorganizes Helicopter Division Around Strengths -  K-MAX® UAS - remote controlled cargo delivery | D-FENS | Scoop.it

Regarding Kaman’s K-Max cargo UAS—a partnership with Lockheed Martin—Terrance Fogarty, general manager of the UAS Group, said that he expects the deployment be extended again within a week of the end of HAI. “That will take us out to September at a minimum, and there is discussion beyond that but no funding,” he said. “We are available over 90 percent of the time... and they want to keep them in theater. They have lifted over 2.5 million pounds of cargo—how many trucks has that taken off the road?”

He said that unmanned K-Max had even had some armed escorts when flying to certain destinations in Afghanistan when the delivery was really important. The integration within USMC is now so far that it is included in a variety of operations, not just those originally envisaged. “As an example of extending the envelope we have installed some auxiliary fuel tanks in the cargo area—this is essentially an off-the-shelf concept that we designed 10 years ago but gives them an extra 60 gallons of fuel which means around an extra 45 minutes flight time.” While USMC operational data is classified, Fogarty said that Kaman had tested the K-Max UAS up to 15,000 feet in the United States with a 3,500-lb. load out of Yuma, Ariz. “We’ve had a USMC commander saying that this was ‘the rock star’ of UAS for the Marines. We have briefed many officers in the Army look at this and of course the Navy is interested.” Data from the Logistics Innovation Agency and the Army are doing scenarios and cost comparisons on using the K-Max against more traditional forms of supply. The unmanned K-Max is not available for foreign military sales (FMS) currently, although there has been interest from Poland, the British Royal Navy and from the French Navy.

“There is a lot going on and a lot of interest because of our success in Afghanistan. It has allowed us to bring the K-Max back into other people’s thoughts,” he admitted. At HAI, interest has been re-sparked in K-Max and Fogerty says that they have been asked for a helicopter and when could they get one. They are again looking at the K-Max performance during the U.S. fire season and thoughts are moving towards the value of an unmanned aircraft operating here—particularly at night and by using thermal imaging.

Lockheed Martin/Kaman unmaned cargo K-Max.    Gary Tenison, vice president of business development and marketing for Kaman Aerospace, told Rotor & Wing that the company’s recent restructuring is part of a strategy to focus on operators.

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Bell Helicopter prepares to build 25 new UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters for U.S. Marine Corps

Bell Helicopter prepares to build 25 new UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters for U.S. Marine Corps | D-FENS | Scoop.it

 Combat helicopter designers at Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, are making preparations to build 25 new military helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $13.1 million contract announced Monday.

The contract calls for Bell Helicopter to provide long lead parts and components to build 15 Lot 11 UH-1Y combat utility helicopters and 10 Lot 11 AH-1Z attack helicopters. Long-lead parts take a relatively long time to acquire, and represent an essential first step in a major manufacturing program.

Awarding the contract were officials of Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.

The UH-1Y is an armed twin-engine utility helicopter with modern avionics, powerful engines, and four-bladed rotor system designed to replace the ageing Marine Corps fleet of two-blade-roter UH-1N light utility helicopters.

The helicopter's new engines and four-bladed rotor provide increased power sufficient to lift new avionics, radios, and door guns necessary for today's Marine Corps operations. The UH-1Y has a glass cockpit, forward-looking infrared sensors, new engines, and four-blade rotor.

The UH-1Y can lift a useful load of 6,660 pounds, can fly at speeds of nearly 200 knots, to altitudes as high as 20,000 feet, and can fly for more than three hours between refuelings. It can carry machine guns and fire 70-millimeter Hydra rockets.


The AH-1Z, meanwhile, is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the AH-1W SuperCobra that features a four-blade rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system. It has upgraded avionics, weapons, and electro-optical sensors designed to find targets at long ranges and attack them with precision weapons.

At the heart of the AH-1Z weapons systems is the Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman AN/APG-78 Longbow fire-control radar designed originally for the U.S. Army's AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. The helicopter can carry a payload of 5,764 pounds, can fly as fast as 222 knots, has a range of 370 nautical miles, and can fly as high as 20,000 feet.

The AH-1Z has a crew of two, and carries a 20-millimeter Gatling gun, and can fire 70-millimeter Hydra rockets, AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.

Together the UH-1Y and AH-1Z are part of the Marine Corps H-1 program to build new attack and utility helicopters with design commonality to keep costs down. The UH-1Y and AH-1Z share a common tail boom, engines, rotor system, drive train, avionics architecture, software, controls, and displays. More than 84 percent of the two helicopters' components are identical.

On the current contract, Bell Helicopter will do the work in Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas, and should be finished in September 2014.


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