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Australia closer to new joint-service helicopter crew training
by Richard Tomkins
Canberra, Azores (UPI) Oct 23, 2014

Thailand increasing its heIicopter fleet
Marignane, France (UPI) Oct 23, 2014 - Thailand's military has ordered light utility and combat search-and-rescue helicopters from France for delivery over a two-year period.

Airbus Helicopters said five of its EC645 T2s, the militarized version of its EC145 TC utility aircraft, will see service in transport and other missions in Thailand with the country's navy.

The two EC725 tactical transport rotorcraft for search-and-rescue and combat search-and-rescue missions will be operated by the Thai Army, which had previously ordered four of the aircraft for delivery next year.

"By acquiring both the EC645 T2 and EC725, Thailand will be operating two of the most capable helicopters in their categories, delivering high levels of mission flexibility with their modern avionics and rugged airframes," said Philippe Monteux, Airbus Helicopters' head of Region South East Asia & Pacific.

The EC645 T2 utility aircraft features a digital cockpit and a four-axis autopilot. It is powered by Turbomeca Arriel 2E powerplants. The EC725 is a twin-engine helicopter with a digital four-axis autopilot and five-blade composite main rotor.

Deliveries of the utility helicopters will occur in 2017.

The EC725 is operated by the militaries of France, Brazil, Mexico and Malaysia, and have been deployed in crisis areas such as Afghanistan and Mali.

The Australian military is allotting more than $600 million for a new army and navy helicopter training system.

The allotment, which includes about $175 million for new and refurbished facilities at HMAS Albatross, the base where the system will be located, comes with Department of Defense approval for procuring a new training system.

"This (system) will deliver a fully integrated modern training environment with both in-flight and virtual environments on contemporary twin-engine helicopters and flight simulators," Minister for Defense David Johnston said, "... (and) will prepare both Navy and Army for the new generation of advanced combat helicopters such as the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, MRH-90 Taipan, MH 60R Seahawk Romeo and our new CH-47F Chinook Foxtrots."

Boeing Defense Australia has been named the preferred partner for the Helicopter Aircrew Training System, or HATS, will include purpose-designed syllabi based on 15 Airbus Helicopter EC-135 twin-engine 'glass cockpit' training helicopters; three full-motion Thales EC 135 flight simulators and addition of a flight deck to the navy's new sea-going training vessel.

Final contract negotiations with Boeing for the system are expected to finish soon.

Johnston emphasized the benefits of joint training, including a reduced training burden on operational aircraft and enhanced Navy and Army operations from new amphibious ships.

"Defense will also achieve a significant efficiency now that all Army and Navy aircrew will do their initial helicopter training in the one location," he said.

"Being based at Albatross will also bring the advantage of aircrew being able to train in realistic conditions at sea including ship deck-landing and search and rescue skills."

HATS is expected to get initial operating capability status in late 2018 but the systems will begin to receive students before then, the Department of Defense said.

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