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Friday, August 1, 2008

Program Insider: Program Updates

Attack — The Indonesian Armed Forces expected last month to receive six Kazan Helicopters Mi-35 Hinds. Fifteen Indonesian pilots and technical specialists reportedly have been training in Russia since March.

Attack — Kamov plans to begin production of its all-weather Ka-52 Alligator by the end of the year. First flight of the modified Ka-50 is planned for after September.

Attack — Boeing experimental test pilots performed the first flight of the Block 3 variant of the U.S. Army AH-64D Apache on June 27 at the company’s Mesa, Ariz. facility.

UAV — U.S. Army and Air Force leaders are developing a common concept of operations for unmanned aircraft in joint operations. They met early last month at Langley AFB, Va. to start the process of identifying and addressing equipment interoperability issues and "lay the foundation for acquisition, airspace, air defense, force structure and organizational strategies."

Utility — The U.S. Army’s 4th Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Div (Air Assault) on June 11 became the first unit equipped with the latest version of Sikorsky Aircraft’s Black Hawk, the UH-60M. The "Mike" model includes a new fully digitized cockpit with four multi-function displays, a four-axis fully coupled flight director, digital map, dual embedded GPS/inertial navigation system and an integrated vehicle health management system, as well as wide-chord composite blades and an increased performance engine.

Utility — Brazil has signed an agreement with EADS for construction of an EC725 Super Cougar factory in the southeastern town of Itajuba and the purchase of 50-70 of those heavy helicopters. EADS will invest €350 million (about $555 million) in the plant of Eurocopter subsidiary Helibras.

Utility — Vought Aircraft Industries’ Dallas facility delivered its 100th composite empennage for the V-22 to Bell Helicopter in Amarillo, Texas in late June. The section will be used for a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 variant of the Bell/Boeing tilt-rotor.

Utility — Australia’s third MRH90 multi-role helicopter was flown to that nation in late June by a Royal Australian Air Force C-17. The helicopter is being prepared for acceptance by prime contractor Australian Aerospace and the Defence Materiel Organisation. Australia is acquiring the NHIndustries NH90 variant for added troop lift and replacement of Black Hawks and Sea Kings.

Utility — AgustaWestland officials insisted at the Farnborough Air Show July 15 that the Future Lynx program is on track, despite published reports that the U.K. Defense Ministry may cancel it. The £1-billion program is intended to replace current Lynx with 40 new battlefield reconnaissance helicopters for the British Army and 30 new surface combatant maritime ones for the Royal Navy.

VIP — Lockheed Martin is integrating mission systems on the fourth VH-71 test vehicle at its Presidential Helicopter Integration Facility in Owego, N.Y. Following integration of advanced communications systems, Test Vehicle 4, or TV-4, is to be used to validate the in-flight performance of systems previously evaluated in laboratories. TV-3 also is undergoing integration in Owego.

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