All the USA’s fast catamaran transports, from the Bollinger/Incat ships Joint Venture, Spearhead & Swift to Austal’s Westpac Express, offer the ability to move whole battalions and their accompanying supplies much faster than normal sealift, and at much less effort and expense than airlift. HSV-X1 Joint Venture ended its US military charter in July 2005, and TSV-1X Spearhead now serves as the passenger ferry T&T Spirit for the government of Trinidad & Tobago. Austal’s Westpac Express has been chartered for another 1-5 year period.
Elbit Systems Ltd. recently announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tadiran Communications Ltd, received a $127 million contract to supply tactical communications radio equipment and systems from “a European customer.”
The systems include high frequency (HF) and very high frequency (VHF) tactical radio equipment designed for use by ground forces for data transfer and voice communications, and the project will be performed over a 17-month period. Elbit release [PDF]
“The USA’s Kiowa Warrior fleet has accumulated well over 1.1 million flight hours, including over 200,000 combat flight hours. Aviation News reported that as of April 2006, 28 OH-58Ds had been lost to accidents, age, and enemy fire during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Army says it needs 368 Kiowas within its force structure, but fewer than 350 now remain in inventory. This number will continue to decline, as wear and attrition take their toll.”
As the US Army waits for the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter to arrive in whatever form, the OH-58D fleet will have to be maintained and enhanced in order to keep them in the air. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. in Hurst, TX received a $30.4 million firm-fixed price contract for supplies and services. These will be used “for application of safety enhancement lot program into the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft.” Work will be performed in Hurst, TX and is expected to be complete by Feb 28/10. One bid was solicited on March 24/04 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-04C-0123).