The Australian Army has chosen Sandel Avionics’ four-inch flat-panel primary flight and navigation displays to upgrade its fleet of Bell 206B/OH-58 Kiowa helicopters. Redesign of the legacy OH-58 instrument panel and installation work was accomplished by Sikorsky Helitech in Brisbane, Queensland.
The BLR FastFin is a major part of Bell’s recently announced enhancements for the 412EP medium-twin. FastFin will be standard on all new 412s and available via retrofit on existing aircraft. More than 600 already are in service on the UH-1, 205/206 and 212/412, according to Dave Marone, BLR vice president. Those aircraft have logged more than one million flight hours with the system.
Columbia Helicopters (Booth No. 7334) has opened a new $4 million engine test cell for the GE T55-714 turbine engine, which is used in military CH-47 “Chinook” helicopters worldwide. The cell is also designed to accept future-design engines. The test cell will enable the company to do “nose-to-tail” maintenance on CH-47s.
Boeing announced the first flight of an upgraded UK Royal Air Force Ch-47 Chinook. It also confirmed that the entire current fleet of 46 UK Chinooks will receive the new cockpit displays and mission avionics, supplied by Thales from its TopDeck range, by 2016. The upgrade also includes more powerful Honeywell T55-l-714A engines, new defensive systems, nose-mounted FLIR and new secure communications.
Marshall Aerospace took steps to boost the future of its core business: C-130 Hercules maintenance and support. The Cambridge, UK-based company will partner with Lockheed Martin in the OEM’s offer to provide enhanced and performance-based sustainment solutions to the air forces of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Marshall Aerospace has previously overhauled and modifies C-130s for these countries.
Eurocopter ended 2010 with a flurry of progress announcements, some of which related to previously delayed military programs in Europe. The first NH-90s in the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) configuration for France and Spain both made their maiden flights at Marignane on December 17. The French machine, one of 34 TTHs to be handed over to the French army late this year, is now undergoing flight tests at Istres.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to supply 40 license-built Sikorsky UH-60J+ helicopters for the Japan Air Self Defence Force’s search-and-rescue fleet. The deal is worth around $2.3 billion, and includes 20 years of logistics support. The selection was the first result of a new bid evaluation process the Japanese government introduced to increase transparency in defense procurement.
Sixteen Harrier GR.7/9 V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) jets flew over the UK Midlands Wednesday to mark the type’s retirement from British military service. The 70-strong Harrier force fell victim to the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has since rushed to ground them in a vain attempt to stem criticism of the decision.
The Alsalam Aircraft Company delivered a Lockheed L-100 Hercules in VIP configuration to an undisclosed customer on Tuesday. The aircraft featured an interior designed by Saudi Arabian company.
In a ceremony held at RAAF Amberley, Queensland, the Royal Australian Air Force retired its General Dynamics F-111 fleet on December 2. Affectionately known as the “Pig,” the F-111 served the RAAF from 1973 in the long-range attack and reconnaissance roles. It has been replaced by the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet, although the new fleet is not yet operational.