We already served you a nice dish of images of the big NATO & partners exercise Cold Response earlier, but the military photographers and the Norwegian military audiovisual unit have given us some more nice stuff! Press play and see more of the aircraft and helicopters that supported the 15,000 troops strong exercise in Northern and Central Norway, with even the Norwegian crown prince Haakon deployed, earning his tactical special operations parajump certification with the Norwegian Special Operations Command.
The somewhat odd-looking K-Max heavy-lift utility helicopter is back in production. Manufacturer Kaman Corporation announced the start of it on Friday 5 June, with the plants in Jacksonville (Florida) and Bloomfield (Connecticut) both active in the process. The first new K-Max is expected to fly out to its customer in Q1-2017.
The K-Max choppers are already used in the firefighting and logging business, where continuous aerial lift is required. Moreover, are two K-Max operational with the US Marine Corps where they have been turned into unmanned choppers by Lockheed Martin. Those USMC machines carried 4.5 million pounds of cargo during the military operations in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014.
Launch customers of the new production K-Max include current users, like Rotex Helicopter of Switzerland and Helicopter Express of Chamblee, Georgia, USA. Rotex used the machines for forestry in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany. Rotex is ordered two new aircraft. Kaman expects the first 10 new K-Max choppers to give the company a revenue of 75 to 85 million dollar.
The original K-Max was certified for flight by the US Federal Aviation Administration in 1994. When the first production cycle ended in 2003 Kaman produced 38 machines.
The K-Max is a single-engine, single-seat helicopter, with a counter-rotating rotor system. It is optimized for external load operations with the need for vertical flight and known for its low-maintenance and operating costs, with about USD 1,200 per flight hour. The K-Max can lift up to 6,000 pounds (2,722 kg).
UPDATED | A Royal New Zealand Air Force Lockheed P-3K2 Orion has been the first to respond to the devastating cyclone Pam that struck northeastern Oceania on Friday 13 March 2015, with wind speeds up to 273 feet/second (300 km/h).
The aircraft was sent into the air first to assess the damage done to the nation of Tuvalu, and proceeded to Vanuatu on Friday the 13th where – according to local reports – up to 90 percent of the buildings in the capital Port Vila (47,000 people) has been damaged by the natural disaster. Vanuatu’s rescue services have much lost contact with the 220,000 inhabitants living on the 64 other islands of the nations.
The RNZAF sent a C-130H(NZ) Hercules with eight tonnes of supplies and a first response New Zealand team to Vanuatu on Sunday. Two more Hercules flights are scheduled for Monday 16 March.
In the area as well is Royal New Zealand navy HMNZS Wellington (P-55), but at the time of writing it is not known to Airheadsfly.com if the off-shore patrol vessel has its air asset – a Kaman SH-2 Seasprite – on board. Any rescue efforts will be hindered by the remoteness of the nations struck by Pam. The distance between Tuvalu and Vanuatu alone is about 950 miles (1,500 km).
Royal Australia Air Force
Australia has responded by sending at least one Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter stuffed with relief goods and rescue workers towards Vanuatu, where it was expected to land on Saturday 14 or Sunday 15 March as far as our reports indicate. A Royal Australian Air Force C-130 has been departing RAAF Station Amberley as well heading for Vanuatu. Since a lot of the infastructure is damaged, military planes with crews used to operate in these challenging environments are the only ones able to land on Bauerfield International Airport close to the capital Port Vila.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force has officially welcomed three new Kaman Seasprite maritime helicopters of the new SH-2G(I) type. The first batch of an order of ten was officially embedded with No. 6 Squadron at RNZAF Base Auckland/Whenuapai on 6 March 2015. Operated by the Air Force, they are flown by Navy pilots.
The Kaman ASW choppers are to be operated from the Royal New Zealand Navy ANZAC class frigates F77 Te Kaha and F111 Te Mana, as well as from the multi-role vessel L421 Canterbury and offshore-patrol vessels of the Protector-class: P148 Otago and P55 Wellington. Eight will be operational, with the remainder two staying in reserve.
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.