AusAero demonstrates EC135 for HATS

The EC135 in Canberra yesterday. (Gerard Frawley)

Australian Aerospace demonstrated the Eurcopter EC135, its contender for the ADF’s Air 9000 Phase 7 Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) project, to Defence officials in Nowra and Canberra earlier this week.

Australian Aerospace hired Moorabbin based Microflite’s EC135 VH-VJB for a short two day demonstration tour to Navy, Capability Development Group and DMO officials in Nowra and Canberra, as the company expects to bid the machine, possibly in its military missionised EC635 form, for the Phase 7 project, the request for tenders for which is expected to be issued by early next year.

Eurocopter continues to talk to possible partners for its EC135 bid, understood to include Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Thales, and has yet to decide whether it would seek to lead a Phase 7 bid as the prime contractor, as a co-prime, or as a subcontractor.

“Yes, we have identified [areas where we would like to team on Phase 7],” Australian Aerospace CEO Jens Goennemann told media in Canberra. “It is very much dependent on the tender documents, and there are several options for us. One option is to be in the lead, one option can be just to be the platform provider for the training system, or a combination of both.”

Two leased EC135s are already in Australian military service. Two civil registered EC135s operated by a contractor for Australian Aerospace are based in Darwin for glass cockpit transition training and currency training for Army ARH Tiger pilots. Australian Aerospace originally provided these machines to the Army as recompense for delays to the ARH program, but the Army is negotiating contract extensions to retain the aircraft.

The EC135/EC635 is in military service with six nations, most notably Germany which operates 14 for pilot training at Bückeburg.