Tag Archives: Thailand

H145: customized best seller for all

On first glance a military special forces member may not have a single thing common with an offshore worker, a paramedic or even your average VIP. On second glance, they do. It’s called the H145, currently one of Airbus Helicopters’ best selling choppers and since December 2015 the preferred airborne ride of the German Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK). Starting April, Thailand will also welcome the H145M, a helicopter that like all Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft, can be customized almost to infinity.

Customization is indeed built into our design structure and production process, says Gottfried Hornung, heading the combined Final Assembly Line (FAL) of H135 and H145 helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany. Behind him, Airbus Helicopters employees perform quality inspections on what is to be the third of fifteen H145Ms for the KSK. The dark green colour sets its apart from other helicopters built for civilian customers.

Hornung is in charge of final assembly of all H135s and H145s produced in Donauwörth. “Helicopters have been produced at this location for many decades.That experience has led to optimized customization for our customers, which in turn contributes to the market success of both the H135 and H145”, says Hornung while an H135 for the Australian Defense Force (ADF) awaits attention. Nearby in the flight hangar, two olive green H145Ms for Thailand are readied for flight and an additional H145 is prepared for its customized ‘Mercedes-Benz style’ VIP interior.

Quality control on the third H145M for Germany. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Quality control on the third H145M for Germany. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Versatile

Customized or not, the H135 and H145 are true multipurpose helicopters. Their versatility is demonstrated by the fact the both are the preferred platform for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). As civil market leader, Airbus Helicopters has a strong foothold in this corner of the helicopter market, which globally decreased by over 20 percent last year.  Nevertheless, Airbus Helicopters in 2015 slightly increased its civil market share and  chalked up total 383 orders, military contracts included. Out of these orders, 107 are for the H145 and 49 for the smaller H135.

An H145M for the Thai Army awaits its next test flight. (Image © Alexander Lutz)
An H145M for the Thai Army awaits its next test flight. (Image © Alexander Lutz)
While another waits to have its rotor blades fitted. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
While another waits to have its rotor blades fitted. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Military

On the military market, the H145 may appear like the new kid on the block while in fact it is anything but. Disguised as the UH-72A Lakota and as a replacement for the UH-1 Huey, the type has been serving the US Army for years already in training, transport and liaison roles. A staggering 423 Lakotas were ordered by the US.

In its special ops role, the H145M – advertized as a ‘light battlefield support helicopter’ – offers  room for up to 10 soldiers in the ballistically protected cabin. The sliding side doors and fast rope systems offer quick exit in hover situations, while the double clamshell doors at the rear can also be used when on the ground.The Fenestron shrouded tail rotor offers protection and safety on the ground. Until now, special forces in Germany relied on the – again – UH-1 Huey.

Fast rooping from an Airbus Helicopters H145M. (Image © Airbus Helicopters)
Fast rooping in action. (Image © Airbus Helicopters)

Weapons

The H145M features a mission computer, an infrared/TV electro-optical system, a laser range-finder/designator/pointer plus two rigid but removable multi-purpose armament pylons. Optionally, the helicopter can be fitted with rocket launchers for ballistic and guided weapons, guns pods, mounted door guns and air-to-ground missiles. According to Airbus Helicopters, laser-guided rockets could be added to the H145M’s weapons arsenal in the future, too.

Also, for the next seven years the Airbus Helicopters Military Support Center in Donauwörth will take complete care of the fifteen German special ops choppers. The same center already looks after all military helicopters in service with the Germans, including Sikorsky CH-53Gs, NH90s and Tiger attack Helicopters. It also provides support for German Marine Sea King and Sea Lynx helos.

Helionix

What sets newer H145s, including the German special ops ones, apart from earlier models is the modulair and impressive Helionix cockpit suite which according to Airbus Helicopters offers pilots the world’s most advanced cockpit – apart from the Airbus A350. In the case of the H145, the suite consists of three large MFDs that can all be adjusted for diplaying either basic flight control instruments, engine parameters, digital maps or a range of other options. Two Garmin GTN 750 GPS/NAV/COMM multifunction displays complete the typical Helionix setup in the H145. The system offers a 4 axis autopilot including Auto-Hover function. Helionix will be integrated in all new or updated products of Airbus such as the new H135 and H160.

Helionix is another example of Airbus Helicopters customization and attention to customer needs. “We aim to get the most out of our product”, says Gottfried Hornung. “Take the recently increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) for the H145, which was 3,650 kg and now is 3,700 kg. In an helicopter, that extra 50 kilos makes all the difference.”

And yes, no matter if you’re a military special forces member, an offshore worker, a paramedic or your average VIP. Or anything else.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Out for a test flight is this H145M for the Thai Navy. (Image © Alexander Lutz)

(Image © Alexander Lutz)
Each helicopter is thoroughly checked during several test flight. (Image © Alexander Lutz)
 (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A view of the combined H135/H145 production facility in Donauwörth. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
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Electrical testing in progress. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
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No guessing where these parts will end up: Thailand.(Image © Dennis Spronk)
Engineers work on on this H135 destined for the Australian Defense Force. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Engineers work on on this H135 destined for the Australian Defense Force. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Thai Gripens celebrate 5,000 hours in the air

The Royal Thai Air Force on Thursday 10 September celebrated 5,000 hours of flying the Saab JAS39 Gripen. The aircraft has been in Thai service for well over four years now, operated by  701st squadron ‘Sharks’, part of the 7th wing at Surat Thani airbase.

The Thai Gripen deal was signed in 2008. The first of twelve JAS39C/D Gripens were flown to Thailand in February 2011, with the last arriving two years later. Thailand is the only Asian country operating the Saab jet. Other Gripen operators are Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and, starting 2019, Brazil.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Royal Thai Air Force JAS39C Gripen in much colder conditions than its Thai habitat. This pictures was taken in Sweden in June 2012. (Image © Elmer van Hest) 

Thai Air Force retires Arava, wants drones

The Royal Thai Air Force is retiring its three remaining Israeli Aircraft Industries Arava light patrol aircraft, according to the Air Force Commander in the Bangkok Post. The military is now opting to create two squadrons of drones in stead, boosting its surveillance capability.

The IAI 201 Arava’s have served Thailand for more than 36 years, currently flying as ELINT aircraft with 402 Squadron based at Takhli. Between 1972 and 1998 the Israelis built 103 of these light Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) aircraft. Despite its small size it can transport 24 combat-ready troops in the transport role, as a surveillance platform it is a very affordable asset with low usage costs.

The Israeli Air Force retired its Aravas already in 2004.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An IAI Arava somewhat similar to the one in use by the Royal Thai Air Force. (Image (CC) Bob Woolnough)

Bombardier Q400 surfs well

The Q400 in Hawaii Island Air livery (Image © Bombardier)
The Q400 in Hawaii Island Air livery (Image © Bombardier)

Hawaii Island Air has placed a firm order for two Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop airliners on 31 March 2014, and has taken options on another four of these aircraft. On the same day Thai low-cost carrier Nok Air converted two previously booked Q400 NextGen options to firm orders.

The Island Air Q400s will be delivered with a dual-class, 71-seat configuration. Bombardier cashes US$ 60.9 million on the deal, which could increase to US$ 188 million if Island Air exercises all options. Island Air currently offers flights to and from the islands of Oahu, Maui, Lanai and Kauai. The islands of Hawaii are known as one of the world’s surfers paradises.

The Nok Air Q400 NextGen conversions of two options into firm orders follows a contract announced in November 2013. It holds another four purchase rights and two earlier firm orders.

Nok Air will be the launch customer for the new extra capacity seating option of the Q400 NextGen turboprop that will allow the aircraft to accommodate up to 86 passengers. The Nok Air order is valued at US$ 64 million.

Source: Bombardier

Related post

With 86 people many will fit in this Q400 in Nok Air of Thailand. we just love the fun livery (Image © Bombardier)
With 86 people many will fit in this Q400 in Nok Air of Thailand. we just love the fun livery (Image © Bombardier)

Lightning grips Thai Gripen

A Royal Thai Air Force JAS39C Gripen in person, and in much colder conditions than its Thai habitat. This pictures was taken in Sweden in June 2012. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Royal Thai Air Force JAS 39C Gripen ‘in person’, and in much colder conditions than its Thai habitat. This picture was taken in Sweden in June 2012. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The final three JAS 39 Gripens for the Royal Thai Air Force were to arrive today at their new home of Surat Thani airbase in southern Thailand. A lightning strike to one of the aircraft prevented this however.

The three Gripens are now in India and will continue on to Thailand on Wednesday. The delivery completes the Thai order for twelve JAS 39C/D aircraft with Saab. The Gripens are flown in Thailand by 701st squadron ‘Sharks’, part of the 7th wing at Surat Thani.

The Royal Thai Air Force ordered its Gripens in 2007 as replacements for older F-5 aircraft. The Thai decision was sparked by neighbouring countries – like India, Malaysia, China and Indonesia – acquiring Russian Su-30 Flanker aircraft in all shapes and sizes.

The first Saabs were flown to Thailand in February 2011, while a further three followed last April. The Royal Thai Air Force also flies the Saab 340, one of which is fitted with the Erieye radar, an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) developed by Saab Electronic Defence Systems.

The aircraft that was hit by lightning, sustained only minor damage. Nobody was injured.

Update Wednesday September 4: according to several sources, at least two Gripens arrived today in Surat Thani, Thailand.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

Check out the Thai Armed Forces Orbat at Scramble.nl

Get a grip on these; Gripen tails from Hungary, UK, Sweden, Thailand and South Africa. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Get a grip on these; Gripen tails from Hungary, UK, Sweden, Thailand and South Africa. (Image © Elmer van Hest)