Tag Archives: AW101

First flight for Norwegian AW101

The first of 16 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MoJ) successfully performed its maiden flight at the AgustaWestland Helicopter Division’s Yeovil factory in the UK on 21 March 2016.  This was announced by Finmeccanica on 23 March 2016.

The successful on-schedule maiden flight marks a major milestone and the start of the flight test programme that will lead to initial aircraft deliveries to the MoJ, for operation by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, in 2017. Aircraft deliveries will continue through to 2020.

“I am very pleased that Finmeccanica has reached this important milestone in the SAR helicopter project and thereby making good progress for the replacement of the aging Sea King helicopter with the new state-of-the-art AW101 by 2020,” says the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Mr. Anders Anundsen.

The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)
The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)

As we reported earlier, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security signed a contract for 16 AW101 helicopters plus support and training, back in december 2013, to meet the Norwegian All Weather SAR Helicopter (NAWSARH) requirement based on a new generation aircraft. Each aircraft is provided with an advanced SAR equipment package including a multi-panel AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) surveillance radar system, that provides 360° coverage. The large cabin doors and rear ramp provide easy access for personnel, survivors and equipment into the 27 m3 cabin which has stand-up head room throughout.

Finmeccanica’s Helicopter Division will provide initial support and training services, including spares at each of the aircraft operating bases and aircrew training. It will then provide performance based logistic support to deliver approximately 90,000 flying hours across the fleet of 16 helicopters over the initial 15 year period of operation. In support of pilot training, a full flight simulator will be available in Norway in advance of the delivery of the first aircraft.

The AW101 is in service with several air forces. For example, the Danish Air Force already send their AW101 (EH101) for operations in Afghanistan. In 2015, Japan got its first anti-mine AW101 (MCH-101) delivered, produced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, while the Italian Air Force recently introduced its first CSAR AW101 (HH-101A) into service.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image: The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)

First anti-mine MCH-101 chopper to Japan

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) received its first Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) MCH-101 Airborne Mine Counter Measures helicopter on 10 March 2015.

The chopper is a licence built version of the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter. Its equipment includes the Northrop Grumman AN/AQS-24A airborne mine hunting system and the Northrop Grumman AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS).

Kawasaki Heavy Industries has led the development of the AMCM variant of the AW101/MCH-101, with AgustaWestland providing technical support. The support includes Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) modified to be able to perform coupled towing patterns with the AN/AQS-24A.

Japan will operate the first MC-101 from Iwakuni Air Base, with the 51st Experimental Squadron before entering operational service in 2016.

The AN/AQS-24A features a high-resolution, side scan sonar for real time, detection, localization and classification of bottom and moored mines at high area coverage rates and a laser line scanner to provide precision optical identification of underwater mines and other objects of interest. Through the ALMDS the data is presented on a mission console in the cabin of the helicopter.

The first MCH-101 is the eight of 13 AW101s that Kawasaki Heavy Industries is building under licence from AgustaWestland for the Japan Maritime Defense Force. Another five MCH-101s are awaiting full configuration, while the JMSDF also received two CH-101s to support Japan’s Antarctic research activities.

Source: AgustaWestland
Featured image: The KHI / AgustaWestland MCH-101 mine-encounter chopper of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Image © AgustaWestland)

Italian Air Force HH-101A maiden flight

Unfortunately not the best image ever provided by an aircraft company, this photo does show the maiden flight of the first AMI HH-101A Caesar CSAR helicopter (Image © AgustaWestland)
Unfortunately not the best image ever provided by an aircraft company, this photo does show the maiden flight of the first AMI HH-101A Caesar CSAR helicopter (Image © AgustaWestland)

The first of 12 Italian Air Force HH-101A Ceasar combat search and rescue helicopters made its first flight on 19 March 2014 at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility in the UK.

The first and and the second machine will be delivered to the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI) before the end of this year, configured for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces missions. Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Pasquale Prezios: “The HH-101A will respond to the Italian Air Force’s needs for Personnel Recovery and Special Forces Operations. It will also support SAR, MEDEVAC and Slow Mover Intercept operations which are extremely important to provide effective support to the Italian community.”

The HH-101A fly with a crew of up to five crew plus twenty fully equipped troops, or six crew members plus 8 troops for special operations. The helicopters will also feature three M134 7.62 mm pintle mounted Gatling-type machine guns installed on right and left sides and on the rear ramp, armoured cockpit seats, ballistic protection for machine gun operators as well as for critical systems and an Integrated Electronic Warfare System providing self-protection against radar, laser and infrared threats. The HH-101A will also feature an air-to-air refueling kit for extended range operations.

Italy’s HH-101A is a variant of the AW101 model, of which more than 220 aircraft have been ordered so fare for transport, SAR, CSAR, special forces ops, anti-shipping and anti-submarine warfare, minesweeping and VIP transport.

Source: AgustaWestland

Despite everything, Canada chooses Sikorsky

The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada at May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)
The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada at May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)

Despite painful delays, budget overruns and broken promises, the Government of Canada keeps choosing Sikorsky to provide the armed forces with the CH-148 Cyclone. The maritime helicopter will replace the aging Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-124 Sea Kings from 2015.

Canada says it now re-engages in a hard agreement with Sikorsky to “see delivery of helicopters with operational capability sufficient to begin retirement of Sea Kings in 2015, and a program to enhance those capabilities culminating in a fully capable CH-148 Cyclone in 2018”. Meaning, the RCAF for the first three years of operational service cannot use the new helicopters to their full advertised extend.

As we at AIRheads↑Fly reported in September, the Canadians were so mad at Sikorsky that they sent a team to the UK to validate the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin in stead of the Sikorsky machine.

The renewed Canadian deal is a win for Sikorsky, which suffered from very bad PR because of the Canadian project. But it doesn’t come light. Sikorsky will not be able to squeeze any more money out of the deal until they upgrade the Cyclones to full capability. Furthermore, the American helicopter manufacturer will pay US$88.6 million in liquidated damages for the non-delivery for the choppers.

Cyclone initial training and testing on very limited machines will with the new deal now continue at RCAF base Shearwater in Nova Scotia. External consulting agency Hitachi – which advised the Canadian government to continue with the Sikorsky deal – “will remain engaged in the project to ensure delivery of a fully capable maritime helicopter”.

Source: Government of Canada

Norway: AW101 will replace Sea King

The AW101 is a common SAR helicopter sight in Canada, soon in Norway (Image Lt Trevor Reid, 19 Wing Comox Public Affairs © RCAF DND-MND Canada)
The AW101 is a common SAR helicopter sight in Canada, soon in Norway (Image Lt Trevor Reid, 19 Wing Comox Public Affairs © RCAF DND-MND Canada)

UPDATE 19 DECEMBER 2013: Norway has ORDERED the Agusta Westland AW101 as its new search-and-rescue helicopter, after preselecting the type on 11 November. The aircraft will replace almost ancient Sea Kings.

“I am very pleased that we are now coming forward in the acquisition process for the new search and rescue helicopters”, the Minister of Justice and Public Security Anders Anundsen states in a press release on 10 November 2013.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Security, who selects the rescue helicopter that is operated by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, has thanked the other three bidders – Eurocopter, NHI and Sikorsky – for their efforts. The aim is that the contract following final negotiations will be concluded by the end of the year. The contract includes 16 new SAR helicopters with an option for further 6, and ensures that the Sea King will be phased out across the country by the end of 2020.

Introduction of the new SAR helicopters will start in 2017. Norway is not the first country using the AW101 as a rescue chopper. The yellow painted aircraft are a common sight in Canadian skies and over North American waters where they are named CH-149 Cormorant.

Source: Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet