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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Program Updates

Assault — NHIndustries has selected Onboard Systems as the sole supplier of fast-rope cargo hooks for the NH90.

Attack — Hindustan Aeronautics will install Nexter THL 20 turrets armed with a 20 M 621 ultra-light, low-recoil cannon under the noses of 20 Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters for the Indian armed forces. The turrets are to be combined with a helmet sight on the Dhruvs. The first turrets are to be delivered to HAL in 2008. The turrets are intended to enable the helicopters to engage air and land targets at very long ranges.

Attack — Saudi Arabia has submitted a letter of request under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program for the remanufacture and upgrade of 12 Boeing AH-64As to AH-64Ds and associated equipment and services, including 10 spare General Electric T-700-GE-701A engines converted to T-700-GE-701D models, Modernized Targeting Acquisition and Designation Systems and Integrated Helmet and Display Sight Systems.

Attack/Transport — Poland has acquired seven Mil Mi-8s originally destined for Iraq, after their buyer there instead bought 10 upgraded Mi-17s. The Mi-8s recently underwent upgrades at St. Petersburg, Russia, including receiving new, more powerful engines. Poland’s ministry of defense plans to equip the helicopters with new communications and improved armor in preparation for their use in Afghanistan.

Border Patrol — French Customs has confirmed an option for two Eurocopter EC135s. French Customs currently operates eight twin-engine Eurocopter Ecureuils. Their helicopters are used for fighting customs violations and tax evasion, protection of the environment and fishing police.

Security — The French Gendarmerie has placed 12 firm orders and taken 25 options for Eurocopter EC135s, which will replace the single-engine Ecureuil B, BA and B1 on police missions. The Gendarmerie Nationale is a national police force under the French ministry of defense. The first of the aircraft are to be delivered in late 2008. The agency also confirmed an option for three EC145s.

Utility — The Irish Air Corps, the air element of the Irish Defence Forces, has converted two AW139 options to full orders, bringing its total orders for the AgustaWestland aircraft to six. The two new aircraft, which like the others are to be used for air ambulance, troop transport, inland search and rescue and VIP transport missions, are to be delivered in 2008.

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