With some long-awaited relaxation of the rules governing helicopter operations in China, prospects for the rotorcraft industry at last seem to be firming up. Last year the entire fleet (465 helicopters, 424 based in Mainland China) grew by 20 percent, according to the Asian Sky Group, which in February published the latest edition of its Greater China Civil Helicopter Fleet Report.
Bell OH-58 Kiowa
The Obama administration delivered a proposed $496 billion base U.S. defense budget for Fiscal Year 2015 to the Congress on March 4. In a round of briefings at the Pentagon, service budget officials spoke of making difficult choices because of spending limits Congress imposed in the Budget Control Act of 2011, followed by deep “sequestration” budget cuts that took effect in FY2013.
Faced with tough budget decisions on new weapons programs, the U.S. Army appears to be delaying a decision on the $6- to $8 billion Armed Aerial Scout program while concurrently moving forward with the potential $100 billion joint multi-role (JMR) initiative.
As the first new model introduced since Lynn Tilton’s Patriarch Partners bought MD Helicopters (MDHI) in 2005–and rescued the manufacturer from the brink of collapse–the MD 540F armed scout helicopter not only marks the continued evolution of a storied platform that traces its lineage back to the Hughes 500D. It also symbolizes renewed hope for the company’s future.
Bell Helicopter announced upgraded variants of its Model 407 and 412 helicopters today, and the Fort Worth, Texas-based company is displaying them this week at Heli-Expo, which opens tomorrow in Las Vegas.
EuroAvionics is at Heli-Expo’13 celebrating 20 years since its founding in 1993. Since then it has become established as a key supplier of cockpit avionics enhancement packages for special-mission helicopters and military aircraft. The company is exhibiting (Booth No. C3930) next to U.S. partner LCX Systems, which serves the Americas market from its base in Sarasota, Fla.
Three contenders for the U.S. Army’s as-yet-undefined armed aerial scout (AAS) requirement–Bell Helicopter, Boeing and EADS North America–have just completed a series of flight demonstrations for Army evaluators who are studying alternatives to the aging OH-58D Kiowa Warrior for manned reconnaissance. They reported the results at the Association of the U.S.