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.
Last Friday Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced that his government had signed a $3.5 billion contract with Sikorsky for the co-production of 109 T-70 utility transport helicopters, based on the Sikorsky S-70i International Black Hawk. The announcement comes nearly three years after Turkey had declared the T-70 as its preferred choice for the TUHP (Turkey utility helicopter program) requirement, and some seven months after it had been revealed that there were to be delays in finally putting pen to paper.
This week Bell redelivered the 37th and last AH-1W “Whiskey” Cobra light attack helicopter to be remanufactured to the new AH-1Z Viper, or “Zulu” configuration. From now on, all AH-1Z production will be completely new-build aircraft.
Bell Helicopter (Chalet CD11) is exhibiting two of its products at the Singapore 2014 airshow, the Bell 407GX single and the Bell 429 light twin. The show also marks the debut here of the cockpit demonstrator for the Bell AH-1Z Zulu attack helicopter. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marine Corps is displaying the Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey in both the static and flying displays.
Bell is looking to ramp up sales of both military and civilian helicopter models here in the Asia Pacific region. For the first time, the U.S. Marine Corps has brought a Bell/Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor to the Singapore show.
A U.S. Congressional panel has agreed to the Pentagon’s plan to quickly deliver six Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq. They will be delivered in the summer, and will be leased from the U.S. Army to allow training to begin with Iraqi army aviation. The helicopters are AH-64Ds upgraded to a partial AH-64E configuration. The notification to Congress was lodged on January 23, and was followed by another four days later covering the $4.8 billion purchase of 24 new-build AH-64E Apache Guardians to be delivered over a three-year period.
In an end-of-year statement, Russian Helicopters confirmed that the Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopter has finally been accepted into service. The company also listed deliveries for 2013.
Last week Iraq took delivery of the first batch of Mil helicopters from the Rostvertol factory. Four Mi-35Ms were delivered to Iraq, their arrival being announced by Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Iraqi managers, crews and technicians have been training at the Russian army’s Torzhok center, with the first group completing its course in late September. Following the delivery of the initial batch will be at least two more Mi-35Ms, and a sizeable batch of Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters.
Lockheed Martin continues to upgrade its modernized target acquisition designation sight/pilot night-vision sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) for the AH-64 Apache, an electro-optical fire-control system that this year surpassed one million flight hours on the attack helicopter.
Military cooperation between Russia and Middle East will certainly be boosted with the recent appointment of Alexander Mikheyev, formerly deputy general manager at arms vendor Rosoboronexport, as the general manager at the Russian Helicopters holding company (Chalet C9). The decision was made on September 24, and is understood to be a move aimed at boosting sales of Russian military helicopters in the global market.