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Friday, December 1, 2006

Rotorcraft Report: Program Insider

PROGRAM UPDATES

Medevac – In Poland, AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and PZL Swidnik are contenders in a competition to supply medevac aircraft for the national ministry of health. The competition is valued at $160 million.

Attack/Transport – Russia and the Czech Republic are discussing an agreement to modernize the republic’s Mi171 Hip transport and Mi-35 Hind combat helicopters to meet NATO standards.

Heavy-Lift – Sikorsky is expected to choose by month’s end the contractor to supply engines for the U.S. Marine Corps’ next-generation heavy lifted, the CH-53K. All major engine makers have been pursuing the contract, which calls for fielding the aircraft by 2015.

SARAgustaWestland won a contract from the Carabineros de Chile for four A109 Powers to perform a wide range of missions, including law enforcement, search and rescue, and transport duties.

Transport – Finland is not expecting its defense forces to receive their first NH90 transport helicopter until April 2007. Finland ordered 20 of the aircraft in 2001, with the expectation that the first would be in service by August 2005. But the completions firm Patria is still assembling 18 of the aircraft and is not expected to deliver the first until April.

Transport – Canada has asked Sikorsky to amend its contract for CH-148 Cyclone aircraft based on the S-92 to ensure that the aircraft will not only be able to hunt submarines, but also carry troops. The design change expected to add roughly $4 million to the overall price, but would allow the air force to assign the aircraft to a wide variety of different roles, including potential air support for the army in Afghanistan.

EMS/SAREurocopter Deutschland GmbH is expected to shortly deliver the first of 12 modernized BO105s to the Albanian defense ministry. The helicopters are a gift from the German government to the Albanian Government and underwent modernization at Eurocopter’s Donauworth plant for conversion to the BO105E4 configuration. They are expected to be used for emergency medical, search and rescue, and VIP transport

Special Ops – The Royal Jordanian Air Force is slated to receive two more Eurcopter EC635 light twins in early 2007. Their missions include surveillance flights in border areas and special operations for anti-terrorist vigilance, as well as police and EMS missions and VIP flights inside Jordan.

PROGRAM INSIDER

Next Up, Common Vertical Lift Support

With the die cast for the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation combat search-and-rescue helicopter, attention will turn to the next significant U.S. military rotorcraft competition: the Air Force’s search for a platform to move crews and security forces in and among land-locked U.S. ballistic missile fields and help evacuate key government officials from Washington in case of a national emergency.

The Common Vertical Lift Support Platform (CVLSP), as that potential acquisition currently is known, is aimed at fielding 66 medium-lift aircraft to replace the USAF Bell UH-1Ns used by the U.S. Space Command for missile-site protection and by other units for VIP transport. But that vision has changed quite a bit to date. CSAR-X and CVLSP once were considered a single program under the Personnel Recovery Vehicle banner, with the "non-combat" segment envisioned as simpler and lower cost of the CSAR airplane. But Air Force officials scotched that plan and launched the dedicated CSAR-X competition.

The CH-47’s selection for CSAR-X may hint at further change. If nothing else, expect Sikorsky (which has now lost two U.S. military competitions for which the S-92 was somewhat tailored — CSAR-X and the presidential transport) and AgustaWestland (which was confident of an EH101 CSAR-X win and which has yet to place the AW139 with the U.S. government in significant numbers) to lobby the Air Force and Congress for an "open-minded" approach to the CVLSP competition, or whatever it comes to be called.

For its part, Sikorsky has said it is readying the S-92 for that race.

CONTRACTS

EFW Inc. has been chosen to supply the Helmet Display and Tracking System (HDTS) for the U.S. Army’s new Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter designed and manufactured by Bell Helicopter. The HDTS will be based on EFW’s ANVIS/HUD (Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System/ Head Up Display) with a Tracking System for pilot targeting and cueing. The program is valued at $51 million through 2012.

Sikorsky Aircraft is being awarded a $138.5-million modification to a previously awarded firm, fixed-price contract for the procurement of 12 MH-60R full-rate production Lot 4 air vehicles. Work will be performed in Stratford, Conn. (92 percent); and Troy, Ala. (8 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2007. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Boeing in Ridley Park, Pa., was awarded on Nov. 1 a $163.3-million modification to a firm, fixed-price contract for CH-47F New Build Production Helicopters. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 29, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This was a sole source contract initiated on Dec. 31, 2003. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Bell Helicopter, Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $9.1-million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for the Fiscal 2007 acquisition logistics support for the Lot 4 Low-Rate Initial Production H-1 aircraft. Support to be provided includes systems engineering and program management, development of logistics management information data for technical publications, management data, development of a supportability analysis plan, peculiar support equipment sustainment, and logistics and field service representative. Work will be performed in Hurst, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co., Mesa, Ariz., was awarded on Oct. 30 a $151.9-million modification to a firm, fixed-price contract for war replacement AH-64D Apache Longbow aircraft. Work will be performed in Mesa, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2009. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

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