The purchase of 24 French-made Dassault Rafale fighter by Egypt opens up possibilities for a sale of Airbus Helicopters to the North African country. As the Rafale deal includes the transfer of French Navy multi-purpose FREMM frigate D651 Normandie, it might be an excellent opportunity for the Egyptian Air Force to renew its aging Westland Seaking maritime helicopter fleet. With the current warm relationship between Cairo and Paris, Aérospatiale designs managed by Airbus Helicopters can be on the front-row of negotiations.
The French Navy is not really amused by its government’s decision to quickly transfer one of its eight planned FREMM frigates, produced by DCNS, less than half a year after it was commissioned at its homeport of Brest. Only one other vessels of the class is in service: D650 Aquitaine. Normandie was still very much in its trail period, like its newest sister D652 Provence. The Normandie crew will now move to the Provence. The vessel will be re-located from planned homebase of Toulon to Brest “to ensure French Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities on the Atlantic Coast as originally planned”, according to a French Navy statement.
The Provence’s crew will move to the upcoming fourth vessel of the class, D653 Languedoc, which has been launched 12 July 2014 with planned commissioning in 2016. The retirement plan for the older FASM frigates Montcalm and Jean de Vienne has been delayed until 2017 and 2018.
France plans to operate the NHIndustries NH90NFHs from the FREMM frigates, which have hangar space for one helicopter, but is unlikely that Egypt will opt for that machine. The Egyptian Navy doesn’t have any air assets itself, but the Egyptian Air Force holds 10 Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprites and 5 Westland Sea King helicopters available for shipborne tasks, besides 9 Aérospatiale Gazelles for coastal reconnaissance. For a possible replacement the AS565 MBe Panther anti-submarine warfare (ASW) that Airbus Helicopters is selling to Indonesia looks to be an interesting option.
However, the cheapest solution for the Egyptian Air Force and Navy would be to commission one of the three Seasprites that are held in reserve. But the FREMM frigate purchase might just mean a break for the Egyptian military to replace the Sea Kings, giving Airbus Helicopters new possibilities.
In light of the search for Air Asia flight QZ8501 that went missing on 30 December 2014, it has come to light that the Indonesian Navy lacks sufficient capability to detect objects under water. But fact is, the Indonesian military has already been acting on this prior to the airliner crash. The naval capabilities are getting a boost.
Airbus Helicopters will provide the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) with eleven AS565 MBe Panther anti-submarine warfare (ASW) choppers, as Airheadsfly.com already reported in November. They will be adapted and adjusted with indigenous and own-selected foreign hardware installed by Indonesia’s PTDI. According to PTDI the mission equipment will include active sonar (L-3 Ocean System’s HELRAS) and the possibility to launch torpedoes. Especially the first will come of handy when trying to find objects underneath the surface of the sea.
The Indonesian Navy has to cover 5.9 million square kilometers of water, its economic zone included. That’s a huge bowl of water to go fishing for anything. Slowly improving its options TNI-AL already got three Airbus/PTDI CN235 Persuader maritime patrol aircraft, but has a wish for many more as the Air Force might need to deploy its C-130s it has available during peace time to assist in scanning the waters on other tasks when there is a crisis.
The new Airbus Helicopters will certainly make matters a bit easier for the Indonesian Navy. All 11 new machines are planned to have entered service in 2017 and are the first dedicated ASW versions of the type sold by Airbus to any customer.
The Vietnam Coast Guard is about to buy a new shipborne maritime helicopter, and everything points in favour of the Kamov Ka-27 which is internationally marketed by Russian state-owned company Russian Helicopters.
The Cảnh sát biển Việt Nam (Vietnam Coast Guard) wants to enlarge the working radius of its four DN 2000-class patrol ships, a 2,500 ton and 90 metres (297 feet) long vessel with aft helideck. The class is based on a design owned by Dutch Damen Shipyards, but the ships are being build in Hai Phong, Vietnam. The first ship of the class, CBS-8001, is already operational.
To make its range of 5,000 nautical miles and its speed of 21 knots more efficient, the Ministry of Defence wants to add a rotary wing element to the patrol ship. Ha Noi admitted recently to have shortlisted the helicopter wish list to the Kamov Ka-27 and the Airbus Helicopters AS 565 Panther, but experts close to the process think the Russian chopper will go through based on purchase and operating costs.
A change could be reached if the Airbus Helicopters teams up with its sister fixed-wing production company for a stronger financial deal, since the Vietnam Coast Guard might wish for more C.212-400s maritime patrol aircraft. Those are built by the former CASA factory in Spain, currently part of Airbus. The Cảnh sát biển Việt Nam already operates three of these C.212s equipped with a Swedish mission suite.
The Brazilian Army Aviation Command (Comando de Aviação do Exército) receives the first two upgraded Eurocopter/Helibras AS565 AA/HM-1 Pantera K2 helicopters this month, Helibras confirmed on 12 March 2014.
The Comando Aviação do Exército will first test these new machines and incorporate its evaluation in the expected order for the modification of the remaining 32 Panthers, as the type is marketed internationally. Target is to keep the army version of the Eurocopter/Airbus Helicopter AS365 Dauphin flying for another 25 years.
Fitted with new Arriel 2C2CGs the Brazilian Army Panteras will have 40 percent more engine power, plus a new tail rotor. Moreover, a so-called glass cockpit will be installed, as well as a 4-axis autopilot. The light attack and scout helicopters crews will get night vision goggles and get better situational awareness from a new weather radar, new navigation and communication gear plus a new altimeter.
The upgraded Pantera K2 will have a top speed of 175 knots (324 kmh) – 25 /46 kmh) more than earlier – and a take-off weight of 9479 lbs (4,300 kg). The chopper can be flown by either a single or two pilots and is able to transport up to 10 troops.