The U.S. Navy recently ordered five more MQ-8C Fire Scouts, bringing to 19 the number of Bell 407-based unmanned helicopters it plans to buy from Northrop Grumman. But the Fire Scout program faces scrutiny by Congress for cost overruns.
Kaman Aerospace has begun production flight-testing of the first of 10 refurbished SH-2G(I) Super Seasprites that were previously delivered to Australia, but have now been bought by the Royal New Zealand Navy. The milestone opens another chapter in the story of a design that made its first flight (as the HU2K-1) on July 2, 1959, and which became a stalwart of the U.S. Navy’s shipborne helicopter fleet until retired in 2001.
On Saturday the Indian Navy formally took delivery of the INS Vikramaditya. The aircraft carrier is the former Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, which has been refurbished and retrofitted by the Sevmash shipyard at Severodvinsk in the north of European Russia (see story page 22). India’s defense minister, Arackaparambil Kurian Antony, attended the ceremony.
Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy conducted the first flight of the MQ-8C Fire Scout on October 31. The unmanned helicopter, which is based on the Bell 407, flew twice that day at the Point Mugu range at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.
On the first flight in restricted airspace, the MQ-8C flew in a pattern around the airfield for seven minutes to validate autonomous control systems; on the second flight, it reached an altitude of 500 feet while flying in a pattern. The aircraft was operated by a combined Navy/Northrop Grumman flight-test team located at the naval base.
The future of the Russian navy aircraft carrier component is in doubt after the Russian defense ministry decided to have its nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser, the Admiral Nakhimov, rather than its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, repaired and refitted at Sevmash, the nation’s largest dockyard.
On September 26, the Canadian Coast Guard recovered an MBB BO105 helicopter that crashed and sank in the M’Clure Straits of the Arctic Ocean earlier in the month, killing all three men aboard. Post-mortem examinations of the victims revealed that the three likely survived the impact but succumbed later from the effects of cold-water induced hypothermia. The commander of the icebreaker Amundsen was among the victims.
A Canadian Coast Guard MBB (Eurocopter) Bo-105 on a research support flight crashed into the Arctic Sea on September 10, killing all three people aboard. The helicopter was operating from the icebreaker Amundsen when it went down in the M’Clure Strait off the coast of Banks Island in the Western Arctic.
India will launch its 37,500-ton indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-1) on August 12 at the Cochin Shipyard in Kerala. The ship is scheduled for induction by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, the former Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, now the INS Vikramaditya, conducted final trials in the Barents Sea this week with its squadron of MiG-29K combat jets embarked. It is due to be delivered by year-end, after a delay of more than four years.
The Camcopter S-100 unmanned air system (UAS) by Austria’s Schiebel (Hall 4 A40) has proved its efficient maritime capability repeatedly since the Gowind class L’Adroit offshore patrol vessel was made available to the French Navy in 2011. Schiebel, learning from the experience, says it is now working with sensor manufacturers to integrate maritime radar, electronic support measures (ESM) and EO/IR sensors into the S-100 system. This will for the first time provide maritime commanders with an organic, persistent, ISR capability for a UAS in this class.
Jet Works Air Center and Odyssey Aerospace Components, both of Denton, Texas, are promoting quick-turn cabin refurbishments, relying on the extensive experience of both companies in the outfitting business.
“We have the combined talent for a quick interior refresh or a complete conversion, combined with a regular maintenance event, resulting in minimal down time,” said Jet Works president Trey Bryson.
One of the more recent successes was an interior refurbishment during which the aircraft was actually made available for a mission during the scheduled process.
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