New HATS: Boeing & Thales Win Aussie Heli Training
Australia’s 25-year, A$ 600 million Project AIR 9000 Phase 7 – Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) will replace the Navy’s Airbus AS350BA Ecureuils, and the Army’s Bell 206-B1 Kiowa fleet, with 15 new Airbus EC135 T2+ helicopters. The new helicopters use twin 634shp Turbomeca Arrius 2B2 engines, and have improved maximum takeoff weight compared to earlier EC135 models. They will provide basic training before pilots graduate to Australia’s S-70, MH-60R, MRH-90, or CH-47 squadrons. The contract also includes flight simulators, and a training ship with a landing deck for Navy training. The team includes Boeing Australia, Thales Australia, Airbus, and Turbomeca.
Team Boeing/Thales beat Airbus’ own offering of the EC135, as well as a Raytheon/Bell Helicopter partnership built around the Bell 429. Boeing was already involved in Australian helicopter training before this win, and is also involved with training for Australia’s F/A-18 fighters, C-17 heavy-lift transports, and E-7A Wedgetail AWACS.
Australia’s current fleet of 13 AS350s are all used for training, and will be retired, but some of their 40 Kiowas are also used operationally by 6 Avn Regt. All Kiowas will also be retired when the EC135s enter service, leaving only S-70A Blackhawks in the active regiment. Even that will last only until 5 Avn Regt A and B squadrons are finished their transition to the MRH-90 in 2015, and 6 Avn Regt can begin their own transition.
Sources: Boeing Australia, “Boeing to Train Australian Army and Navy Helicopter Pilots for Next 25 Years” | Airbus Helicopter, “Airbus Helicopters welcomes approval of new aircrew training system EC135 T2+ helicopter the “ideal training platform” for new Army, Navy pilots” | Flightglobal, “Australia confirms HATS win for Boeing/Thales EC135 bid”.