Thursday, March 02, 2017

Bell offering Australia AH-1Z/UH-1Y helicopters.

via Shepard News.
Keith Flail, VP of global military business development, outlined for Shephard Bell Helicopter's offering to Australia. He said that, for less than the price of sustaining and upgrading the current Tiger fleet, the army could buy 22 AH-1Z attack helicopters and 15 UH-1Y Venoms.
Bell Helicopter is adding the Venom to the package because there is a future requirement to introduce a deployable helicopter for special forces use. Flail highlighted the 85% commonality between the Viper and Venom that would offer synergies in training and maintenance.
Bell provided a comparative analysis to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in July 2016 after the White Paper was released. Then last November it submitted a preliminary risk report. More recently, Bell Helicopter was asked to address funding options if an early Tiger retirement and early Viper procurement were pursued.
Regarding discussions over the Viper, the company said there had been 'good back and forth' with the ADF.
With the Royal Australian Navy having commissioned two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships, the marinised features of the Viper and Venom would be a good fit. Furthermore, the H-1 family would offer interoperability with the US Marine Corps (USMC).

This will be another one of those fascinating Australian procurement decisions.  They operate in the Pacific, they have an LHD but will they go for the Apache or the helicopter designed to operate from the sea.

The fact that the Australian Army operates these aircraft instead of the Air Force or the Navy add confusion to the issue.  If it was the Navy or Air Force we'd probably see more of a push to achieve commonality with the USMC and achieve NAVAIR operating standards aboard their LHD.  Because it's the Australian Army then I see them opting for the Apache (and going the Brit route when it comes to operating procedure) even though the USMC has a strong presence on the continent.

Australia.  The land with weird animals that will kill you on the spot and even weirder procurement practices. 

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