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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Program Insider: Program Updates

Utility — A draft briefing paper by Turkey's procurement agency underscores a preference for Sikorsky over European rivals in the contest to build 32 utility helicopters for about $500 million. The maker of the S-70 Black Hawk, the internationally marketed version of the U.S. military’s UH-60 Black Hawk, was recently named by the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries as the "favorable solution" for the utility helicopter program. SSM officials said this evaluation was not final. If finalized, the paper will make the basis of a briefing to be given to top military officials.

Attack — Eighteen of 30 Boeing Apache AH-64D Lot 2 attack helicopters have been delivered to the United Arab Emirates. At the end of February, Kuwait officially took delivery of the first six of its 18 AH-64D Apaches. Training is being conducted in the US.

Transport — Boeing’s first production CH-47F Chinook for the U.S. Army has moved into operational testing at Ft. Campbell, Ky. The aircraft successfully completed acceptance and developmental flight testing in December. The acceptance flight phase included engine performance, communications and navigation verifications, in addition to basic aircraft functionality testing. The phase, which ends this month, includes more than 60 flight test hours that simulate a wide range of mission scenarios. The Army is to field the aircraft in July. The aircraft is the first of 452 CH-47Fs included in the U.S. Army Cargo Helicopter modernization program.

Attack — Top U.S. Army officers have contacted Rafael Armament Development Systems concerning whether Rafael’s Trophy Active protective system, which detects anti-tank threats, may be adapted for helicopters. The Rafael system tracks and detects an anti-tank threat, classifies it, estimates the optimal intercept point in space, and neutralizes it. The system consists of sensors, including search radar around the protected vehicle. A lighter version of the Trophy system would be adapted for helicopter use.

SAR/Security — Agusta S.p.A., the Italian arm of AgustaWestland, sued the French national procurement agency, the DGA, claiming an unfair tender essentially eliminated the Milan-based company from the competition for helicopters for the French Gendarmerie Nationale. Agusta filed the lawsuit in the Paris administrative court, alleging the DGA delay issuing specifications to make the Eurocopter EC145 the only suitable candidate for the national military police requirements. As a result, it charged, the agency purchased EC145s instead of Agusta A109s. Agusta is asking that the contract be cancelled.

Training — The Swedish armed forces opened a contract for helicopter flight simulator services, specifically the education of helicopter pilots, using a simulator designed to match the performance of A109 Powers and A109 LUHs. The initial contract is for two years with an option for a third. Training this year will be 360 hr. Hours will increase to 840 in 2008 and increase again to 1,030 hr in 2009. The bidding ends April 12.

Security — Beijing has formed a helicopter police team to fly security patrols during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. The pilots will carry out drills as soon as the helicopters are delivered in the second half of this year, that official said. The municipal government is acquiring four A109s from AgustaWestland and its joint venture in China’s Jiangxi Province.

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