The RAN’s 723SQN retired its three Retention and Motivation Initiative (RMI) flight Agusta A109E Powers on March 9, in preparation for the arrival of its first new Bell 429s next month.
The retirement ceremony was conducted after a flight around the Nowra and Jervis Bay region by the three A109s, and a water cannon salute by Nowra fire tenders. The three aircraft entered service in 2007 on a lease arrangement supported by Raytheon Australia, and have flown more than 6000 hours in that time providing development opportunities for trainee helicopter pilots waiting for operational conversion to Navy helicopters.
“The A109 provided a fantastic opportunity for naval aircrew to gain experience on an advanced twin engined aircraft prior to commencing operational flying training in either Sea King, Seahawk or MRH 90 helicopters,” said 723SQN CO CMDR Matthew Shand.
Under an RMI extension granted last year, Raytheon will replace the A109s with three new Bell 429s, the first of which is due to fly at Hawker Pacific’s Bankstown facilities before the end of the month. Raytheon is also bidding the Bell 429 for the ADF’s AIR 9000 Phase 7 Helicopter Aircraft Training System (HATS) requirement, tenders for which close on April 19.