Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) and Airbus Helicopters have signed a contract for Airbus to provide 15 Airbus EC 135 T2+ helicopters for the ADF’s AIR 9000 Phase 7 helicopter Aircrew Training System.
Announced as the preferred bidder late last year, the Boeing and Thales Australia team signed a contract with the Commonwealth on October 31 to provide 15 EC 135 T2+s, flight simulators and a training vessel to fulfil the contract. The new aircraft will replace Navy Squirrel and Army Kiowa helicopters at a new joint facility to be built at Nowra.
“Airbus Helicopters is very pleased that the Boeing and Thales team has demonstrated its confidence in our product by selecting the EC135 T2+ as their preferred platform, and we are delighted to be supporting them in the development of a new, modern helicopter aircrew training system for the ADF”, Airbus Helicopters’ Head of Sales – Australia Pacific, Peter Harris said in a statement. “The selection of the Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ twin-engine, glass cockpit, helicopter is an excellent choice of an ideal training platform, along with the Thales full-motion EC135 flight-simulators.”
The Airbus statement was accompanied by a mock-up of how the new machines will look in ADF service. Rather than the familiar sea grey of the Squirrels or the camouflage scheme worn by the Kiowas, the new EC 135s will instead wear an attractive high-viz black and yellow scheme.
“This reinforces Boeing as a leading provider of military aviation training in Australia,” said Kim Gillis, BDA’s managing director and vice president in a separate statement. “We will meet the needs of the Australian Defence Force through a balanced program that makes the most of its cadre of instructors supported by flight simulators and computer-based instruction and training aircraft.”
The first of the new machines is expected to be delivered in 2016.