The Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland HH-71 team have successfully conducted aerial refueling tests involving a Royal Air Force AW101 Merlin Mk3 helicopter and an Italian Air Force KC-130J tanker, the companies announced.
Asia accounted for about 20 percent of AgustaWestland’s orders last year and the European helicopter maker therefore sees the region as a growing market. The booming Chinese economy is a big factor in this assessment, as is the European helicopter maker’s presence in the People’s Republic through an expanding relationship with the Chinese aerospace industry.
Boosting the capability of Europe’s long-awaited NH90 multi-role military helicopter, AgustaWestland has delivered the first all-weather TTH (tactical transport helicopter) version to the Italian Army.
Turbomeca Engines has become a major player on a highly competitive field in recent years after decades spent primarily as a powerplant supplier to European helicopter manufacturers. As the chief provider of engines all across the Eurocopter line, Turbomeca has increased its North American presence on pace with American Eurocopter’s penetration of Western Hemisphere markets.
Despite delays that have slowed progress on the Bell/Agusta BA609, AgustaWestland CEO Guiseppe Orsi insisted the program remains on track for certification and first customer deliveries in 2011.
The U.S. Navy has temporarily halted “Increment 2” development of the VH-71 Marine One presidential helicopter replacement program and is reevaluating available options. However, Pentagon officials say the current contract remains in effect.
None of the world’s major helicopter manufacturers stands to lose more than Eurocopter should the U.S. economy falter. The company is making large capital investments throughout the country to sustain its huge production, support, warehouse and training operations in Texas, Ohio and elsewhere. The last thing it wants is a recession wiping away sales already in its order book.
Russia and South Korea are negotiating for the South Korean navy to take some Kamov Ka-32 helicopters to settle part of a debt owed by Russia to the Asian country. The proposed deal is part of wider Korean military plans to acquire up to 30 Russian helicopters of various types through 2012.
India has agreed to serve as the partner country at the ILA2008 show in Berlin from May 27 to June 1. Some 25 Indian companies, including Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and ISRO, the Indian space research organization, plan to exhibit in a 13,000-sq-ft area, in response to German Minister of Defence Dr. Franz Josef Jung’s invitation. HAL plans to display its HJT-36 Sitara jet trainer and Dhruv helicopter.
Pentagon sources confirmed to AIN that Lockheed Martin has been ordered to stop work on the development of a second block of AW-101-variant helicopters scheduled to join the U.S. presidential fleet in 2015, while the Department of Defense reassesses the program and perhaps seeks alternatives that could include the Sikorsky S-92. When the President is aboard, these helicopters are designated “Marine One.”