19 September 2011
Bell 429 helicopter (photo : Petrus Pabel)
Contract for Navy helicopters signed to develop aircrew skills
Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that the Royal Australian Navy has signed a new contract with Raytheon Australia to provide three Bell 429 helicopters aimed to maintain and develop the skills of junior Naval helicopter aircrew.
The contract is worth around $26 million over four years and includes support and maintenance.
Mr Clare said that the helicopters would be operated by Navy’s 723 Squadron in Nowra.
“This is one way the Navy is making sure that pilots and aircrew are ready for the new Romeo combat helicopters which will start arriving in 2014,” Mr Clare said.
“Junior aircrew initially train in Squirrel helicopters. They will then move on to the Bell 429 to improve and maintain their skills.
“This gives young Naval pilots and aircrew the chance to hone their skills before they start flying the new combat helicopters, the MH-60R Seahawks or the new MRH-90 helicopters.”
The lease of these helicopters is necessary to assist in the skills development of Naval aircrew following the cancellation of the failed Seasprite project.
These new helicopters will operate for four years from 2012 and are expected to fly around 1500 hours per year.