Australia is set to place a follow-on order for the Boeing CH-47F Chinook. Three more of the heavy-lift helicopters are about to make their way to the Royal Australian Army, joining the seven already in service.
The US State Department notified the US Congress of the planned military sale worth US$180 million. The choppers will be equipped with the Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS), Honeywell H-764 gps/nav systems, infrared signature suppression systems and more standard systems. Pilots enjoy a full digital cockpit.
The Chinooks can carry 33 fully-equipped troops, besides the standard crew of four (2 pilots, loadmaster, air crew) over a maximum range of 372 miles (600 km) at speeds up to 170 knots (315 km/h or 195 mph).
All Chinooks are flown by the Australian Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade, from RAAF Townsville in northern Queensland, Australia. The airfield is situated a few miles north of the Lavarack Barracks, a major Australian Army ground units base.
Austrian Airlines has sold its entire fleet of 15 Fokker 100 and six Fokker 70 aircraft to Alliance Aviation Services Limited in Australia, making that company the largest operator of both types. In Austria, Embraer 195 jets will take the place of the Fokkers starting next January, rejuvenating the airline’s mediumhaul fleet.
The transaction is valued at 15 million USD and includes an issue of new shares in Alliance and a cash component. Austrian Airlines will gradually terminate its use of the Fokker jets and deliver them to Alliance Aviation over the next two years. Deployment of the Embraer aircraft will take place simultaneously.
The Embraer jets are not new and have an average age of four years, compared to the average age of about 21 years of the Fokker fleet. “The replacement of the Fokker fleet with Embraer aircraft will serve to significantly rejuvenate our fleet and offer Austrian Airlines better unit costs”, explains Austrian Airlines CEO Kay Kratky.
Alliance Aviation already operates 15 Fokker 100 and eight Fokker 70 aircraft and says it will be the largest global operator of these types of aircraft. The company operates bases in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.
Boeing delivered the seventh CH-47F Chinook to the Australian Army last month, three weeks ahead of schedule, supporting modernization of Australia’s cargo helicopter fleet and eventually replacing the Commonwealth’s six older CH-47D Chinooks. The seven advanced Chinooks were ordered as part of contract signed in 2012.
Australia has one of the most advanced and highly capable Chinook fleets in the world. Major developments on the CH-47F include a digital cockpit, an advanced communications system and new avionics. Those allow the Australian Army to operate more effectively with international forces. The Australian Chinook configuration also includes a new rotor brake that enables shipboard operations by actively stopping the rotor blades rather than allowing the blades to naturally ‘spin down’ once the engine is turned off after landing.
“Our CH-47D Chinooks have been real workhorses for Australia, both here and on operations overseas, and our new CH-47F Chinooks are set to be even more dependable, affordable and capable assets,” said Rear Admiral Tony Dalton of Australia’s Department of Defence. “We are very pleased with how Boeing and the United States Army have worked together to deliver this important capability to Australia ahead of schedule and on budget.”
The Australian Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade, operates the Chinooks from their home base in northern Queensland, Australia. Boeing Defence Australia will provide on-site operational maintenance support for the CH-47F aircraft, having supported the CH-47D since 2010.
Boeing is also providing Australia with EA-18G Growler, P-8A Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, F/A-18 Super Hornet, E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control System and C-17 Globemaster IIIs.
The European-made NHIndustries NH90 is the star of the newest military capability of Australia, where the type dubbed MRH-90 Taipan, is a major part of the Amphibious Ready Element (ARE). The expeditionary unit is now prepping for an important series of exercises lasting several months and that will give the ARE operational readiness status by October this year.
This week crews and support personnel of the Royal Australian Army’s 16th Aviation Brigade were prepping their MRH-90s together with the 2nd Battalion and the Royal Australian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier (landing helicopter dock) HMAS Canberra. Location of the operations: the waters off the North Queensland coast.
The Amphibious Ready Element includes a force of 900 Australian Defence Force and other Government personnel, supported by four MRH-90 helicopters embarked on the Canberra. The Sea Series of exercises will will enable the amphibious force to achieve an interim operational status, meaning limited combat and full humanitarian disaster response capability.
The main goal of the current exercises is to have all units and personnel combined learn how to operate as one force, with focussing on putting ground forces on a beach with both the MRH-90s as well as landing craft and to control a larger area beachhead.
Airbus Helicopters has achieved what it calls ‘factory acceptance ‘of HATS01, the first of fifteen helicopters of the H135 family (formerly EC135 T2+) for the Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Prime contractor isBoeing Defence Australia. Representatives of the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army joined the acceptance ceremony in Donauwörth, Germany.
Under the HATS project, a new joint helicopter training system for both Army and Navy aircrew will utilise the EC135 T2+ helicopters, along with flight simulators and a new flight-deck equipped sea-going training vessel.
Following contract signature in November of 2014, the first aircraft took to the skies on the 16th of January 2015, and is now accepted by the customer. The next steps involve training of initial Boeing and Commonwealth aircrews and technicians in Donauwörth, before shipment to Australia in January 2016