Tag Archives: Dauphin

Meet the new Dauphin

Airbus Helicopters is working hard to move the Aérospatiale and Eurocopter legacy it absorbed into something new. The thrive towards the future will mean the end of the fairly popular Dauphin helicopter, in use with many rescue and government services worldwide. Or at least the end of the AS365 and EC155 Dauphins we know.

On 13 June 2015 the new Airbus Helicopters H160 made its first flight in Marignane in France, after successful ground testing in May. The flight – in so-called ground effect – lasted for 40 minutes and was mainly aimed to check the basic behavior of the chopper. During the second flight on 17 June the chopper reached 130 knots, close to the projected cruising speed of 160 knots (184 mph or 296 km/h).

Airbus Helicopters is aiming to put the H160 into service in 2018. Therefore two more prototypes will see the light of day, the first did a power-up test on 12 June, as well as two ground test airframes.

The Aérospatiale SA365/AS365 Dauphin has been in production ever since its first flight in 1975. More than 1,000 machines have been built, with one of the more recent deliveries to the Lithuanian Air Force.

Harbin Z-9
The Dauphin type is also manufactured under license as the Z-9 and derivatives by Harbin in China. Apart from use as a civilian platform and by the People’s Liberation Air Force (42+ aircraft) and Navy (34 aircraft), the Z-9 flies with the armed forces of Bolivia (12 delivered, 10 operational after two incidents), Cambodia (9), Cameroon (4 ordered, at least 2 operational), Ghana (4 ordered), Kenya (6), Laos (4), Mali (2 delivered), Mauritania (2 ordered), Namibia (2 delivered, 1 crashed), Pakistan (12) and Zambia (3 operational, 1 ordered).

The Harbin Z-9WE production model attack helicopter. Four similar aircraft have been obtained by Cambodia (Image © CATIC)

US Coast Guard
The US Coast Guard fielded the type as the HH-65 Dolphin and later MH-65 for search-and-rescue duties since the end of the seventies. A hundred machines are still in the inventory with the the type being upgraded to MH-65E standard. The M-version has weaponry and newer communication systems. The newest E-type has an so-called “all-glass” cockpit with newer navigation capabilities. The first will be introduced into the fleet in 2017.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by Airbus Helicopters
Featured image (top): First flight of the H160 in June 2015 (Image © Thierry Rostan / Airbus Helicopters)

Lithuanian Air Force’s first Dauphin

The Lithuanian Air Force received its first of three Airbus Helicopters (Aérospatiale / Eurocopter) AS365N3+ Dauphins on 2 June 2015. Before the end of the year the new search and rescue / environmental patrol asset is expected to number all three machines.

Russian-made Mil Mi-8 Hip choppers will be replaced with the new Western European helicopter already operational with many of the world’s armed force and SAR services. The main task of the Dauphins is civil and military SAR, including missions supporting NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. The latter meaning the rescue of fighter jocks of NATO’s combat aircraft in case they eject from their planes in case of an emergency.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Environment, which co-purchased the machines with the Ministry of Defence, gets 75 flight hours on the Dauphins a year, for environmental observation and control. The AS365s are also to deploy as fire-fighters and to transport organs for transplantation.

The Lithuanian Armed Forces signed the procurement contract with Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) on the three Eurocopter AS365N3+ Dauphins in October 2013, for about 52 million euro including the training of pilots.

The Dauphins are equipped with a weather/SAR radar, infrared sensors, searchlight, an autopilot and other equipment to make recovery of people possible about 125 miles (200 km) from the take-off point possible. The Lithuanian Armed Forces have SAR detachments at Kaunas-Aleksotas in the south of the country and at Nemirseta on the Baltic Sea coast in the west.

Source: Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania

The first of three AS365N3+ Dauphins arrive in Lithuania on 2 June 2015 (Image © Lithuanian Ministry of Defence)
The first of three AS365N3+ Dauphins arrive in Lithuania on 2 June 2015 (Image © Lithuanian Ministry of Defence)

New Zealand Orion back in Fiji defence

New Zealand has re-established its defence cooperation with neighbouring Fiji. For the first time in almost a decade a Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft, a Lockheed P-3K2 Orion in this case, patrolled the Fiji exclusive economic zone, Radio New Zealand reports.

Fiji Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrew the legitimate government in the capital of Suva in December 2006, by announcing he took control, launching “military exercises” around Suva and taking control of the weaponry of the Fujian police. The army then took control of other government buildings and took over the parliament while it was in session to condemn the coup. It prompted nations like New Zealand to cut the ties with Fiji, a nation of 332 islands.

Related story: ↑ New Zealand Orion update nears completion

Restart
Democratic elections were held in Fuji in September 2014. Bainimarama won these elections, considered fair by international observers. The former military strongman is now a democratic elected leader and therefore New Zealand sees good reason to restart its military cooperation with its neighbour.

RFMF Air Wing
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) exist of only a land forces and navy element, with 3,500 troops on strength. The Air Wing of two helicopters was disbanded in 1997, after a decade of operations. Its Aérospatiale AS365N2 Dauphin crashed in July 1994, its Aérospatiale AS355F2 was sold to France in 1999.

Laucala Bay
The RNZAF P-3K2 patrol flight on 31 January 2015 coincides with the 50th Anniversary year of the withdrawal of No. 5 Squadron from Laucala Bay Base on the island of Taveuni in Fiji. It was formed there in 1941 flying the Vickers Vincents. It flew Short Sunderland MR.5s until 1965 when it started a 2 year relocation to RNZAF Base Auckland (Whenuapai) to start flying the then brand new Lockheed P-3B Orion. The squadron currently flies six modernized P-3K2 Orions, with the final updates planned for later this year.

No word yet on when the next RNZAF Orion patrol flight will take place.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the RNZAF

RNZAF No. 5 Squadron started operations in Fiji in 1941 with the Vickers Vincents, an aircraft similar to this RAF Vickers Vildebeest Mk2 practicing a torpedo drop in 1936 (Image (PD) Imperial War Museum)
RNZAF No. 5 Squadron started operations in Fiji in 1941 with the Vickers Vincents, an aircraft similar to this RAF Vickers Vildebeest Mk2 practicing a torpedo drop in 1936 (Image (PD) Imperial War Museum)
RNZAF Orion NZ4201 seen overhead Whenuapai on 30 March 2012 (Image © New Zealand Defence Force)
RNZAF Orion NZ4201 seen overhead Whenuapai on 30 March 2012 (Image © New Zealand Defence Force)

Brazilian Army Aviation receives updated Panther

A Brazilian Army Aviation Command HM-1 Pantera (foreground) and a Esquilo (Image © Comando de Aviação do Exército)
A Brazilian Army Aviation Command HM-1 Pantera (foreground) and a HB350L1 Esquilo (Image © Comando de Aviação do Exército)

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.

Source: Helibras

Cambodian Z-9 chopper creates possibilities

The Harbin Z-9WE production model attack helicopter. Four similar aircraft have been obtained by Cambodia (Image ©  CATIC)
The Harbin Z-9WE production model attack helicopter. Four similar aircraft have been obtained by Cambodia (Image © CATIC)

China completed its delivery of 12 Harbin Z-9 helicopters to the Royal Cambodian Air Force this month. The delivery might be part of a promising future for the Chinese version of the Aérospatiale (Eurocopter) AS365 Dauphin.

Between April and November this year the Royal Cambodian Air Force received six general purpose Z-9s, two Z-9s for VIP transport and four attack versions. The deal is worth US$ 195 million and is part of a strengthening of the Cambodian armed forces, which suffered big time from the regime of mad man Pol Pot and Vietnamese invasions of the past. Apart from the Z-9s the Asian country also purchased 100 tanks and 40 armoured personnel carriers, all Soviet made, this year.

The Harbin Z-9s were delivered through the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC). The deal might open up motivation among other countries not alligned to Europe or France to buy the Chinese Z-9 instead of the more expensive Eurocopter version. Since first flight in 1981, about 200 Harbin Z-9s have been built – mostly for the Chinese military.

Source: CATIC/RCamAF with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger