The Navy has spent nearly a decade and $3.4 billion researching candidates for a new fleet of helicopters to transport the President and other government VIPs. Now, as the Navy starts the process anew as the VXX program, AgustaWestland announced that it will again enter the fray with its medium-lift three-engine AW101, this time partnered with Northrop Grumman.
Russian Helicopters has received an order for 18 Ka-226TG light twins from NefteGazAeroCosmos, a “research and production center” linked to Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom. Six helicopters are scheduled for delivery next year and the remaining dozen in 2014.
Photographs have recently appeared on Chinese Internet sites showing a Xian Y-7 transport aircraft that has been heavily modified to serve as a testbed for a carrier-borne airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft. These recent photos follow one that appeared in May 2011, which provided the first grainy visual evidence of development of a “Chinese Hawkeye” by Xian.
Russian Helicopters, the company that parents Russia’s two helicopter design bureaus and five helicopter-manufacturing plants, is moving forward with a new-generation helicopter that is intended to replace the hugely successful Mil Mi-8/17 series. The new project, dubbed Rachel (Russian advanced commercial helicopter), clearly has many military applications.
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India may abandon plans to procure 197 light utility helicopter (LUHs) from abroad for the Indian air force (64) and army (133). Such a decision would favor government-owned defense manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), which is developing its own LUH design based on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The government was already planning to order an additional 187 light utility helicopters to be produced under license by HAL. It is not clear what the time frame for delivery would be, as HAL would need to expand its current production facility, requiring government approval.
The Indian Navy has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for 56 light utility helicopters (LUH) to eight OEMs, including government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). Submissions are due by January 7 next year, with the winner expected to enter service in 2016.
The navy wants to replace its fleet of HAL Chetak helicopters, a license-built version of the Alouette III. Of the 85 Chetaks that the navy received up to 2002, approximately 60 remain in service. In addition, the coast guard operates 17.
AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters have signed a “preliminary agreement” to jointly develop a new 2.5-metric-ton class (5,500 pound) single-engine helicopter. The aircraft will be smaller and less expensive than the existing AW119Ke Koala. It will compete with the Eurocopter EC130T2.
During its U.S. demonstration tour, the Eurocopter X3compound helicopter flew at no more than a company-imposed 220 knots, but as soon as it is back in Europe this fall it will fly “significantly faster,” CEO Lutz Bertling hinted during a press briefing in July. Eurocopter expects the X3will eventually break the 250-knot unofficial record the Sikorsky X2 set two years ago.
All six people aboard a Eurocopter AS532 Cougar were killed when the helicopter crashed in a mountainous region near La Palud-sur-Verdon in southeastern France on July 25. The pilots and engineers onboard were all employees of Eurocopter.
The helicopter was on a final verification flight prior to delivery to Albania.