Airbus Helicopters on 22 November announced it has delivered the last of 15 H135 helicopters for the Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), completing on-time deliveries of the full fleet. The whole fleet of 15 helicopters was manufcatured at the Airbus Helicopters production plant in Donauwörth, Germany. Airheadsfly.com visited the site earlier in 2016.
Under the JP9000 Phase 7 HATS project, a new joint helicopter training program for Navy and Army aircrew is to utilise the 15 EC135T2+ helicopters, along with flight simulators and a new flight-deck equipped sea-going training vessel. Boeing Defence Australia is the prime contractor for the new training system, partnered by Thales Australia who supplies the flight simulators and synthetic training devices.
“Airbus Helicopters is proud to know that Boeing has accepted now all 15 of their new H135s, on time and on budget”, said Peter Harris, Head of Governmental Sales for Australia – Pacific. “Following contract signature in November of 2014, and in the space of only two years, we have trained the initial cadre of Boeing and Commonwealth aircrew and technicians and all 15 aircraft have now been accepted”.
Boeing’s HATS Director Terry Nichols said that the Boeing team is very happy with the performance thus far of the H135 and commended Airbus Helicopters for their on-time delivery.
Airbus Helicopters has delivered around 1,200 H135s to customers around the globe who have logged a total of more than four million flight hours.
The US State Department this week approved the sale of 72 F-15QA fighter jets to Qatar, plus 40 F-18E/F Super Hornet jets to Kuwait. Although contracts for both deals remain unsigned for now, it’s good news for Boeing and the company’s production of fighter jets.
The Qatar contract is worth 21.1 billion USD in total, while the Kuwaiti deal for 32 single and 8 dual seat Super Hornets involves 10.1 billion USD. The White House approved the proposed sale earlier this year, following a long time of delays and uncertainty. Meanwhile, Qatar sought out 24 Dassault Rafales for 7.5 billion USD, while Kuwait chose to buy 28 Eurofighter Typhoons from Italy for 9.1 billion USD.
These signed deals for European fighter jets raise the question wether both countries will still actually take the bait now layed out by the US. While requested by Qatar and Kuwait years ago, the actual purchase of F-15s and F-18s is far from final. Following the approval from Washington and this week’s green light from the State Departement, both countries remained quiet.
However, it is no secret that money flows easily in both Qatar and Kuwait, and that’s reason enough for Boeing to be in a festive mood. The F-15 and F-18 have generated cash flow since 1972 and 1980 respectively, and now are likely to do that for a couple of years more.
Currently, Boeing is producing what at first seemed to be the last batch of advanced F-15 Eagles for Saudi Arabia, plus the final F-18 Super Hornets and F-18 Growlers for the US Navy and Australia. The many US jobs involved now seem safe for some time to come.
The Spanish Air Force took delivery of its first Airbus A400M on Thursday 17 November. It is the first of 27 aircraft ordered. Spain is the sixth nation to put the A400M into service, following France, the UK, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia.
Representatives of the Spanish Air Force and Ministry of Defense formally accepted the aircraft, known as MSN44, from Airbus in a brief ceremony at the A400M final assembly line (FAL) in Seville, Spain.
The A400M will replace the Spanish Air Force’s C-130 Hercules. Under an agreement signed in September, 14 aircraft will be delivered at a steady pace between now and 2022, and the remaining 13 are scheduled for delivery from 2025 onwards. It is however not clear if Spain will actually take up this last batch, as funds may not allow it. In that case, Spain could very well re-sell the aircraft.
The Spanish A400M fleet will be based at Zaragoza in north east Spain and will operate alongside medium C295 and CN235, and light C212 aircraft – MSN44 will fly to Zaragoza in the coming days.
The first two M-346 Advanced Trainer Jets for Poland arrived at Deblin airbase late on Monday. The type is named ‘Master’ by Italian aircraft producer Leonardo Aircraft, but in Poland now goes by the name of ‘Bielik’, meaning white tailed eagle. The two jets are the first of eight ordered.
The two Bieliks arrived at Deblin in the company of several TS-11 Iskras, the very type the new jets replace in their training role. The Polish M-346s have been modified with a braking chute, among other things.
Airheadsfly.com recently flew the Master aka Bielik over Italy, where Polish pilots have been receiving training since early 2016. A full report on that is here.
Poland is the fourth country to operate the M-346, following Italy, Singapore and Israel. Leonardo Aircraft so far delivered some 50 aircraft, which combined logged over 16,000 flight hours. Of those, close to half were chalked up by the 30 Israeli jets.
The Polish have a habit of naming military jets differently. The F-16 for example, is not known as as Fighting Falcon but as Jastrzab (Hawk).
Bielik previously was also the name given the indigenous MS-10 jet trainer, which first flew in 2003 and was also meant to replace the TS-11 Iskra. Only one was ever produced however.
The Airbus A400M airlifter expanded its capabilities as an air-to-air refuelling platform by successfully demonstrating air-to-air refuelling contacts with another A400M, Airbus reported on Monday 14 November. In two flights conducted from Seville, Spain the development aircraft performed more than 50 contacts in level flight and turns using the centreline hose and drum unit (HDU).
Airbus ephasizes that its A400M is the only tactical tanker with this third refuelling point, in addition to its underwing pods, enabling refuelling of large receivers such as another A400M or C-130. It has a basic fuel capacity of 63,500 litres, which can be increased with two extra cargo hold tanks carrying 7,200 litres each, and can refuel from the HDU at a rate of 2,000 litres (600 US gallons) per minute. The technique would allow the A400M to carry a 20 tonne payload more than 6,000nm / 11,000km non-stop from Paris, France to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The standard A400M aircraft has full provisions for air-to-air refuelling (AAR) operations already installed and only requires the rapid installation of the optional air-to-air refuelling kit to become a tanker.