Just two weeks after the Turkish Government announced the start of the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program (TUHP) to build a fleet of multi-role T70 utility helicopters based on the S-70i Black Hawk, Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky has accepted the program’s prototype aircraft produced by its Polish subsidiary, PZL Mielec.
Sikorsky accepted the TUHP prototype aircraft from PZL Mielec during a ceremony on 22 June. The chopper is the 37th S-70i helicopter built in Poland. Among the modifications that PZL Mielec added to the aircraft are a rescue hoist, internal auxiliary fuel tank, cargo hook, Integrated Vehicle Health Management System, a blade de-icing system, and a rotor brake.
Early next year, Sikorsky will fly the prototype to Ankara where it will become the engineering development test bed for a new avionics suite being co-developed by Sikorsky and Turkish defense electronics company Aselsan. The two companies will use the helicopter to integrate, flight-test, and qualify the avionics suite, which is designed to the preferences of the T70 user community.
Contractual agreements approved by the U.S. and Turkish governments license TAI to build and deliver a total of 300 T70 helicopters (109 baseline + 191 options) to six Turkish agencies: the Land Forces, Air Force, Gendarme, Special Forces, National Police, and the Directorate General of Forestry. The first Turkish-built T70 aircraft will be certified and qualified for delivery to the Turkish Government in 2021.
Over the next two years, PZL will manufacture the first five cabin structures that TAI will assemble onto the first five T70 aircraft. PZL personnel also will provide technical and manufacturing assistance and training to TAI both in Turkey and Poland. The PZL facility is the largest manufacturing facility outside the United States owned by Lockheed Martin.
The State of Brunei Darussalam gives neighbouring Malaysia quite a nice gift: four former Royal Brunei Air Force S-70A Black Hawks.
Malaysia will almost certainly operate the second-hand tactical / transport helicopters out of Labuan RMAF Base on a island just 5 miles (8 km) off the coast of Borneo, the land that holds Brunei, the Malaysian provinces of Sarawak and Sabah and Indonesian Kalimantan. From Labuan the choppers will be likely be deployed to fight armed groups that have infiltrated the so-called Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone).
After the transfer – planned for September according top Brunei military officials visiting Malaysia on 23 January – Malaysia Army Air Corps is likely to arm the S-70As with arms. Whether that will mean that Kuala Lumpur will order more weapons or just re-plan 8 of the 10 newly ordered General Electric M134D Hybrid Miniguns is yet unclear. Those Gatling guns were meant to be mounted onto the Army’s sole helicopter fleet, the ten AW109s, before they would transfer from Kluang to Labuan.
The Royal Brunei Air Force is currently transferring to 12 new-produced, more modern S-70i Black Hawks. By helping neighbouring Malaysia with additional rotary wing, Brunei more or less provides an extra forward line of defence for its own security. The Black Hawk is not new to Malaysia, as the Royal Malaysian Air Force flies a pair out of Simpang / Kuala Lumpur airfield for VIP duties.
UPDATED 28 November 2014 | Officially commissioned on 28 November 2014, it is the largest ship ever built for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and it is sporting an interesting ski-jump. Will we see Harriers or F-35B Lightning IIs operate from the brand new HMAS Canberra?
Likely, but not flying in Royal Australian Navy (RAN) or Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) service … for the time being. The official roles of the new ADF Landing Helicopter Dock ships include “to embark, transport and deploy a military force. In case of the ADF it will be the Army, but it could equally be an allied Army or Marines Corps”.
Hello US Marines and British Royal Navy/Royal Marines F-35s! The short take-off and vertical landing fighter jets ordered by the two services would make excellent fighter coverage for any naval combat force with the HMAS Canberra or its future sister ship HMAS Adelaide as its centrepiece. Or it might host other navy’s Harrier jump jets, like the EAV-8B Matador IIs of 9a Escuadrilla Aeronaves that can deploy on the SPS L61 Juan Carlos I. The Australian Canberra-class LHDs are based on this Spanish design.
But things are looking good for a RAAF/RAN F-35 force on board the HMAS Canberra. “The Government is considering buying the “B” model of the F-35, the variant to operate from aircraft carriers”, Australian Defence Minister David Johnston more or less told the newspaper The Weekend West in the beginning of May 2014. Other sources confirmed the stealthy Lightning II has been considered for the two new LHDs from the very first day the Australian government ordered the vessels.
Rotary wing fleet
The Canberra’s flight deck is 202.3 m (663 feet) long and 32 m (105 feet) wide with six landing spots, primarily designed to accommodate the ADF’s rotary wing fleet. It allows simultaneous take off and landing operations of six medium-sized helicopters like the MRH90 Taipan, S-70B-2 Black Hawk, the new MH-60R Seahawk, or four simultaneous take off and landings of the larger CH-47D/F Chinooks in Royal Australian Army service. There are two aircraft elevators – one aft of the flight deck and one forward of the island on the starboard side – that can accommodate medium sized helicopters, with the after one able to accommodate the larger Chinooks.
Between the flight deck and the accommodation deck is a contiguous hangar and light vehicle deck. The hanger (aft) can accommodate up to 8 medium sized helicopters with 18 medium sized helicopters able to be accommodated if the light vehicle deck (front) is also used. Accommodation is provided for 1400 personnel, of which 400 are the ship’s own company. The LHD will be jointly crewed with personnel from Navy, Army and the Air Force.
Untill (foreign) Harriers or F-35s are admitted during operations, the biggest aerial combat power on the Canberra and Adelaide will come from embarked ARH-Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter, of which 22 operate with the RAA’s 1st Aviation Regiment in Darwin. Getting the two LHDs out at sea has put Australia back in a more strategic maritime role, after the last aircraft carrier of the nation – HMAS Melbourne – was decommissioned in 1982.
It has taken almost three years, but Turkey finally signed the contract for the purchase of 109 Sikorsky T-70 Black Hawk helicopters, Turkish sources say. The T-70 is a version of the S-70i, adapted to Turkish needs so a lot of the work can be done by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). The announced price of US$ 3.5 billion apparently hasn’t been adjusted in the time it took to finalize the deal.
TAI will make the cabin, the special Turkish cockpit and the rotor blades, with Sikorsky support. General Electric has licensed the engines to Turkish Engine Industries (TEI). Other Turkish sub contractors are Apata (transmission) and Aselsan (electronics).
Of the 109 new Black Hawks to be rolling out of the factory in Turkish Ankara the coming decade the Gendarmerie (Jandarma Genel Komutanlığı, JGK) will get the most, with 30 helicopters. Each 20 T-70s will go to the Turkish Land Forces (Türk Kara Kuvvetleri, TKK), the General Directorate of Security (Emniyet Genel Müdürlüğü, EGM) to be flown by the National Police, and the Ministry of Forest and Water Management (Orman ve Su İşleri Bakanlığı, OSİB). The Special Forces Command (Özel Kuvvetler Komutanlığı, ÖKK) will get eleven, the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri, THK) six. Finally, a pair of T-70s will go the Gölbaşi command unit of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT).
The government and defence services of Turkey already fly many older S-70 derivatives, with 106 with the Land Forces and 28 with the Gendarmerie. The Turkish Naval Forces (Türk Deniz Kuvvetleri, TDK) ordering 17 new S-70B Seahawks back in 2006 to complement the seven it already had.
The Austrian Armed Forces (Österreichs Bundesheer) deployed a large air force of 30 aircraft and helicopters and 1100 troops from 21 to 26 January 2014 to help secure the World Economic Forum in Davos in neighbouring Switzerland.
During the entire event Austrian aircraft were present practically 24/7 in the skies over Tirol and Vorarlberg. Any aircraft that entered the area were identified and escorted away. Fortunately, no potential threats posed a big risk.
All available aircraft types of the Bundesheer were deployed during the summit, from the Alouette III, Agusta Bell AB 212s and S-70 Black Hawks to the Eurofighter Typhoons. The Austrian and Swiss Air Forces transferred information electronically, with both countries having liaison officers attached to the air ops staff in the neighbouring nation. Einsatzzentrale Basisraum in St. Johann in Pongau was the Austrian nerve centre during the operation.
Although no information has been given on the number of flight hours made by the aircraft deployed, the air time will be taken off from the yearly quota of each air asset.