While the worldwide deepwater offshore energy boom fuels an increase in civil helicopter sales, that will translate into only modest sales gains within the U.S. market, research consulting firm Frost & Sullivan (F&S) predicts. In a recently released study, F&S predicts U.S. civil helicopter purchases will rise to $1.07 billion by 2020 from $890 million in 2012, accounting for approximately one-third of worldwide demand.
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.
The Army also plans to upgrade analog UH-60L models to the same capability of M models rather than purchase all M models. Last summer, it formed the new UH-60L Digital Product Directorate to lead the effort.
The U.S. Navy declared operational readiness of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and deployed the first Poseidons to the Asia Pacific region earlier this month.
Making its public debut at the Dubai Airshow is the Air Tractor AT-802i, an agricultural aircraft heavily modified for counter-insurgency/light attack/ISR missions. The aircraft were purchased by the UAE with a mission system integrated by Iomax, and it is believed that a batch of 24 is nearing the end of delivery after the first arrived at the end of 2010. The U.S.-based company has now migrated the mission system from the Air Tractor AT-802 to the outwardly similar Thrush 510P airframe and launched the aircraft as the ArchAngel at this year’s Paris Air Show.
Bell Helicopter recently delivered seven of an order for 15 Bell 429s light twin-engine helicopters to the Turkish National Police. The helicopters were accepted during September and October by the police, which immediately started operating them for surveillance, personnel transport and air support of ground operations. Each aircraft is equipped with multi-sensor cameras and microwave downlink.
The Indian navy ship Vikramaditya successfully completed testing recently and, after final adjustments and painting at Sevmash Dockyards in northwest Russia, was due to be handed over to a Indian navy crew of 1,326 that is eagerly awaiting the November 15 handover ceremony, just before the Dubai show.
The Unmanned Systems 2013 event in Washington D.C., last week attracted 600 exhibitors and more than 8,100 attendees, according to organizer the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Among many briefings were two by U.S.
Sikorsky Aircraft is developing a set of hardware and software capabilities to support autonomous flight of unmanned or optionally piloted vertical-lift aircraft. Executives said the goal is to deliver an order of magnitude improvement in the safety and reliability of unmanned aircraft, which experience losses at a rate of once every 1,000 flight hours.
The first ICH-47F Chinook helicopter destined for the Italian army made its maiden flight on June 24 at Vergiate, in northern Italy, program prime contractor AgustaWestland announced.