A highly anticipated opportunity for contractors to demonstrate their helicopters for the U.S. Army’s armed aerial scout (AAS) requirement, originally planned for this spring, has been postponed until this summer or fall as the Army contemplates improving or replacing the aging OH-58D Kiowa Warrior in the manned reconnaissance role.
The field of companies offering armed scout helicopters to the U.S. Army and other militaries has grown with the addition of MD Helicopters, which is proposing the MD 540F, an upgrade of its MD 530F light helicopter, equipped with a weapons management system from Israel’s Elbit Systems. The offering is based on the same airframe MD Helicopters supplies to Boeing for the AH-6i, which is also a competitor for the Army’s armed aerial scout (AAS) program.
Speaking of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract MD Helicopters signed last year, Lynn Tilton, CEO of Mesa, Arizona-based company, said, “That’s the highlight [of 2011], to serve those who serve for love of country. And it goes back to our roots of 1964, when Hughes Helicopter [predecessor of MD Helicopters] first won a military contract.” She made the comments at a Heli-Expo 2012 press conference in Dallas yesterday.
Honeywell plans to provide the Zing Test Elite rotor track-and-balance maintenance technology to MD Helicopters to support all current and new MD500 series helicopters. Based on the Zing HUMS 1134 on-board system, Zing Test Elite is a carry-on system that quickly provides the ability to perform helicopter rotor smoothing, engine refining performance checks, component balancing, and vibration surveys to save time, fuel and maintenance costs.
Sikorsky Aerospace Services signed a memorandum of agreement with Danish Aerotech to discuss the possibility of establishing maritime helicopter logistic support in Denmark should the Danish Government acquire MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Royal Danish Navy. Sikorsky Aerospace Services is the aftermarket division of Sikorsky Aircraft. Potential collaboration by the two companies comes as the Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) evaluates the MH-60R for the Danish Navy’s Maritime Helicopter Replacement Program.
An avionics retrofit for Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters is being proposed as part of a new partnership between the multinational Cobham Group and Carson Helicopters of the U.S. Cobham has provided avionics to most aerospace majors, while Carson has specialized in airframe modifications to enhance the performance of S-61 helicopters.
The pair of “low-observable” Sikorsky Black Hawks used in the raid by U.S. forces against terrorist Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani compound May 2 were kitted with a variety of stealth and radar-defeating features that had been in development since the 1970s, and maybe longer. The helicopters came to light after one had to be left behind and intentionally detonated after apparently clipping a compound wall and making a hard landing.
I have often wondered whether the U.S. had a “black” program to provide a stealthy air vehicle to transport special forces into sensitive locations. It seems an obvious requirement, yet very little has surfaced about such a capability.
Stealthy helicopters and the still-secret RQ-170 Sentinel, a stealthy unmanned or optionally piloted, tailless flying wing, may have played pivotal roles in the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 1.
MD Helicopters (MDH) CEO Lynn Tilton said at Heli-Expo 2011 that the Mesa, Ariz.-based company is on the verge of finalizing several deals that could keep its production line at capacity for the next four years.
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