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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Program Updates

ATTACK — The U.S. Navy aims to achieve initial operational capability for the armed-helicopter kit for the Sikorsky Aircraft/Lockheed Martin MH-60S Knighthawk this month. The kit, designed to be installed on the aircraft in about 12 hr, includes eight Hellfire missiles, an AAS-44 forward-looking infrared, two GAU-21 50-caliber guns, an M240 machine gun or GAU-17 7.62mm minigun, an integrated self-defense system with missile-warning, infrared suppression, countermeasures capabilities, floor armor, and a digital map. The kit-equipped aircraft is intended to support surface-warfare, special-operations, force-protection, and combat search-and-rescue missions.

ATTACK — Boeing picked Meggitt to supply the standby flight display system for the Boeing Block 2 AH-64D Apache Longbow.

ATTACK — The Russian army is purchasing 40 Kamov Ka-50 gunships. The Ka-50 is similar to the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow. The Ka-50 is a replacement for the Mi-24.

COMMUNICATIONS — Competitive pre-development contracts have been awarded to Boeing and Lockheed Martin in anticipation of one company securing the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) contract with the U.S. Army. The contract is due to be awarded next month.

UAV — The U.S. Army anticipates buying one developmental Warrior unmanned aerial system with 17 aircraft and 11 complete production systems, with a total of 132 production aircraft through 2015.

UTILITY — Eurocopter is seeking an agreement to delay delivery of 12 AS532AL Cougars to Bulgaria’s army and six AS565MB Panthers to its navy due to concerns about that nation’s ability to pay for the aircraft.

TRANSPORT — The Swedish Defense Forces have successfully flown a test flight of the first high-cabin NH90 transport helicopter assembled by Patria in Finland. Two other NH90s have been test-flown and assembled by Eurocopter in Marignane, France. Sweden has ordered 18 NH90s, 14 of which are to be assembled in France.

SAR — All U.S. Coast Guard air stations with HH-65s are now flying the HH-65C configuration upgraded with twin Turbomeca Arriel 2C2 engines.

SURVIVABILITY — The U.S. Army’s Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure System, delivery of which was delayed due to reliability fixes, has been again delayed until June, 2011 due to performance issues.

UTILITY — The U.S. Army, after awarding a contract for up to 42 Light Utility Helicopters to EADS North America last year, will decide this month if the full complement of 322 aircraft will be built. The helicopters are not designed to fly combat missions or be deployed into a combat area.

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