Category Archives: Helicopters

Brand new Russian attack helo unit combat ready

Russia’s newest military helicopter unit has gone through its final testing phase to be officially “combat ready”. Equipped with the Ka-52 Alligator, the Mi-28N Night Hunter and the Mi-35M Hind the military attack helicopter squadron of the Southern Military District underwent its flight-tactical exercise near Kuban in the Krasnodar District.

The unit’s Ka-52s arrived late 2016 to reinforce Mil choppers and get a total combat strength of 20 rotary wing, plus reserves. Flown by 60 pilots and navigators combined, and supported by 150 ground crew and other personnel, the full squadron embarked on relocation exercises, tactical airborne assaults in mountainous areas as well as attack of armoured and soft targets using the onboard guns and missile systems.

The Russian Ministry of Defence is not elaborating too much on details other then saying 60 unguided missiles were fired on 20 different kind of targets.

Russian War games

Also at other locations in Russia, attack helicopter units are engaged in war games. An army aviation brigade in the Pskov region (Western Military District) was brought to the highest state of alert, flying 30 sorties a day for four days in row with its Ka-52 and Mil Mi-8AMTSH helicopters.

It is believed that in the case of an armed conflict Russia will be able to quickly attack and control large areas – for example cities like Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius or parts of Kiev – by flying its very mobile assault helicopter units in from forward operating locations in Russia or Belarus, supported by Russian Air Force combat fighter jets and jamming capability.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Russian Army Aviation Ka-52 Alligator during an earlier military exercise (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

Order for 268 AH-64E Apache Guardians

Boeing and the US government have signed a five-year, 3.4 billion USD contract through which the Army, plus a customer outside the US, will acquire the latest Apache attack helicopter at a significant savings to taxpayers.

This is the first multi-year agreement for the Apache E variant, also dubbed Apache Guardian. The army will receive 244 remanufactured Apaches while 24 new ones will go to the international customer.

“This agreement is great news for our army, our soldiers, the American taxpayers, our industry partners and numerous international partners,” said U.S. Army Col. Joseph Hoecherl, the Apache project manager. “It is a direct result of the professional dedication and diligent efforts by government and industry teammates to provide the much needed capabilities of the world’s best attack helicopter – the AH-64E Apache – at a fair and affordable price that results in year over year savings to the taxpayer. In the hands of our trained U.S. soldiers, the Apache’s technologies and resulting capabilities are essential to Army operations around the globe.”

Boeing builds the Apache in Mesa, Arizona. Deliveries of the E model began in October 2011. Seven customers outside the US have ordered this variant. Including this latest version, the US and 15 other countries have relied on the Apache during the past three decades.

“The Apache has made a tremendous impact in the defense of the nations that have flown it for the last 37 years,” said Kim Smith, Boeing Attack Helicopters vice president and program manager. “Our team understands the responsibility we have to deliver the best aircraft on time at an affordable price every day, and we are committed to maintaining that well established tradition of excellence.”

France: Airbus H160 as new tri-service chopper

France on Friday announced the selection of the Airbus H160 as the new helicopter for its  air force, army and navy. Around 170 new helicopters are needed to replace many dozens of older rotorcraft of various types. Deliveries of the H160, which currently is still under development, should start in 2024.

France is looking to replace many dozens of AS342 Gazelle, AS365 Dauphin, armed AS365 Panthers and AS555 Fennecs, plus SA330 Pumas.

The choice for the H160 is somewhat surprising, given the fact that Airbus only presented this new helicopter last year and is still busy developing the new chopper. The H160 includes many innovative features, including oddly shaped main rotor blades, which according to the manufacturer reduce noise and increase payload lift.

US Air Force looks for UH-1 Huey replacement

Boeing on Thursday 2 March unveiled its MH-139 helicopter, which the company will enter in the competition to replace the US Air Force’s UH-1N Huey fleet. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin and its subsidiary Sikorsky are pitching their new HH-60U Ghost Hawk.

The US Air Force is looking to replace its UH-1N Hueys, which currently protect intercontinental ballistic missiles and transport government and security forces. The plan is to replace the current Huey fleet — which entered service in the 1970s — with up to 84 new helicopters.

Boeing’s revealed the MH-139 at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium. The offering is based on the Leonardo Helicopters AW139.  “This northeast Philadelphia-built aircraft is sized to meet US Air Force requirements and offers more than 1 billion USD in acquisition and lifecycle expense savings over 30 years when compared to competitor aircraft,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift.

The HH-60U Ghost Hawk shares many commonalities with HH-60W combat search and rescue helos currently in production. A decision on which helicopter will eventually replace the Huey in the US Air Force, is still some time away.

Airbus H125 helos for famed UK test pilot school

UK defense technology company QinetiQ has signed a deal for four Airbus H125 helicopters as part of its modernisation of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS). This famous test pilot school is managed in cooperation with the UK’s ministry of Defence. The helos are expected to enter service in early 2019.

Tthe deal is worth 15 million GBP and  will see Airbus Helicopters’ UK design team upgrade the H125s with a 3-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and Traffic Awareness Systems among other capabilities,. This is in addition to a Flight Test Instrumentation suite, which is used to test and evaluate aircraft design and performance – a critical part of a test pilot or flight test engineer’s training.

QinetiQ and UK MoD are investing 85 million GBP in ETPS under a strategy to modernise the UK’s Test Aircrew Training capability. Assembling a fleet that provides the very best value and performance is vital to this strategy, according to QinetiQ.