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.
Jordan on 3 March took delivery of the last of eight Sikorsky (Lockheed Martin) Black hawk medium transport helicopters. They are tools for the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) in securing Jordan’s borders against Daesh forces in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, both Jordan and US officials said during the handover ceremony at Marka airbase in Amman.
The US cofunded the helicopters and sees them as vital assets against possible insurgents in Jordan. The country is host to Western military aircraft taking parting part in missions over Syria and Iraq.
The handover also marked six decades of relations between the US and Jordan. According to sources, eight more Black Hawks should arrive in 2017 against a cost of 200 million USD. Together, the helicopters operate as a Quick Reaction Force for border security.
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.
The Navy of India has choosen the Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk as its future anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter. It started negotiations for the purchase of 16 S-70Bs and an option for 8 more on 5 December.
The proposed Indian Navy S-70B variant will include avionics and flexible open architecture Weapons Management Systems that integrate an advanced sonar, 360 degree search radar, modern air-to-surface missiles, and torpedoes for the ASW role. A blade and tail fold capability will facilitate shipboard storage.
The S-70B aircraft will also be of service in the Indian Navy’s non-combat maritime roles, including search and rescue, utility and external cargo lift, surveillance and casualty evacuation. The version of the Indian Navy is somewhat similar to the SH-60s operated by for exeample the US Navy.
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.