For the first time in recent history a Super Puma helicopter of the Spanish Air Force operated from Spanish Navy ships.
During the exercise Marítima Tornado P-44, named after the corvette P-44 Tornado which served as landing platform, in the third week of July, 2013, the Aérospatiale (Eurocopter) AS332B Super Puma of 802 Escuadrón practiced procedures with the Armada with an eye on possible future operations.
The joint ops take more than just deck landings. Helicopter and ship crews need to stay in contact about the wind limits, training on the handling of JP-5 fuel and to have the helicopter firmly on the deck of the moving ship.
802 Esc normally operates from Gando at Gran Canaria, the third largest and second most populated island of the the Canary Islands situated in the Atlantic Ocean 150 km (93 miles) from the North-African coast. Apart from the Super Puma the squadron also flies three Fokker F27-200MAR maritime patrol aircraft & search-and-rescue aircraft. Gando is also home to the 462 Esc with its EF-18A (C.15) fighter jets.
If you like choppers, Portugal is the place to be these days as the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa; FAP) hosts the multinational helicopter exercise Hote Blade 13 at Ovar Airbase near the city of Porto.
Hot Blade 13 will see the involvement of 38 aircraft, including two Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin helicopters from the FAP itself and possibly even a few of the FAP’s F-16 fighter aircraft.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force contributes an Eurocopter AS 532U2 Mk II Cougar and as much as up to five Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks.
The Austrian Air Force sent three Agusta Bell AB 212s and three Bell OH-58 Kiowas. Four Belgian Air Component Agusta A109BAs has joined the exercise, as well as up to eight German Army UH-1D ‘Hueys’.
Hot Blade 13 started on July 17th and will last till July 31st.
Source: Força Aérea Portuguesa, NL Ministerie van Defensie
The German Special Forces (Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK)) have choosen the most powerful EC145 helicopter for its special ops. Fifteen so-called EC645 T2 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) will begin to arrive late 2015. According to the Eurocopter press release final delivery is planned for mid-2017.
The LUH contract enhances the Special Forces Command’s operational capability. The day and night missions that these helicopters will perform include insertion and extraction of special ops, fire support and reconnaissance.
The EC645 T2 LUH features a modern digital cockpit with full night vision and a 4-axis autopilot. Its communication equipment including tactical radios enables interoperability among NATO forces. Special ops teams can quickly access the aircraft thanks to its spacious cabin, which has two large sliding side doors and double doors at the rear. The helicopter’s maximum take-off weight is 3.7 tons. Troop safety is improved by the Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, particularly for flight operations in confined landing sites and whenever the rotor is turning on ground.
In addition, the mission equipment packages include fast rope system, cargo hooks and hoists. The aircraft are also equipped with pintle armament and electro-optical sensors. A self-protection system and ballistic protection further increase crew safety and aircraft survivability. The EC645 T2 is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 2E engines and is equipped with dual-channel full authority digital engine control (FADEC).
The helicopter can be strategically airlifted in an Airbus A400M and quickly prepared for the mission upon arrival in a theater of operations.
The contract, worth a total of 194 million euros, includes not just the helicopters but also the related equipment packages to allow KSK to carry out its special operations missions. About 600 helicopters of the EC145 family have been delivered to more than 40 countries.
Canada’s new Chinook CH-147F medium-to-heavy-lift helicopter landed at the Ottawa International Airport direct from the Boeing plant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, June 26, 2013. The CH-147F continued to its new home at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa where it will eventually be joined by 14 others as part of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Government of Canada’s purchase of these helicopters from Boeing.
Sikorsky received a $435 million to build four production-representative CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters for the US Marine Corps. Designated as System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA), the four aircraft will enable the Marines to conduct operational evaluation of the new helicopter system in support of Initial Operational Capability in 2019.
The contract schedule requires that Sikorsky deliver the first SDTA aircraft in 39 months, and the fourth by the end of March 2017, when the Marines will begin operational evaluation. Sikorsky will perform final assembly of the SDTA aircraft at the company’s Florida Assembly and Flight Operations facility in West Palm Beach.
To date, Sikorsky has delivered two of the seven SDD CH-53K aircraft – the Ground Test Vehicle and the Static Test Article – into the test program, and is finalizing assembly of the four flight test aircraft and the Fatigue Test Article. First flight of a CH-53K prototype aircraft is expected in late 2014.
Once the SDTA aircraft enter operational evaluation in 2017, the Marine Corps will verify the CH-53K helicopter’s capability to carry 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under “high hot” ambient conditions, nearly tripling the external load carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.
Technology enablers for increased lift include three 7,500-shaft-horsepower GE38-1B engines; a split torque transmission design that more efficiently distributes engine power to the main rotors; fourth-generation composite rotor blades for enhanced lift; and a composite airframe structure for reduced weight.
Per the current program of record, the Navy intends to order an additional 196 CH-53K aircraft as part of a separate production contract to stand up eight operational squadrons and one training squadron to support the Marine Corps’ operational requirements. Eventual production quantities would be determined year-by-year over the life of the program based on funding allocations set by Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense acquisition priorities.