By By Emma Kelly, Australia and Pacific Correspondent | October 30, 2014
The Australian Government has formally announced the Boeing Defense Australia/Thales Australia team as the successful bidders for the new helicopter training program for the Australian Army and Navy.
The delayed Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) will be based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales. Boeing and Thales are proposing the use of 15 Airbus Helicopter EC-135 twin-engine training helicopters, three full-motion Thales EC-135 flight simulators, and a flight deck on the Navy’s new training vessel. Once mature, HATS will have a training capacity of up to 130 students per year, comprising pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrew men, sensor operators and aircrew returning for instructor training.
The government expects to conclude final negotiations with Boeing shortly. Boeing/Thales was selected over shortlisted teams led by Australian Aerospace and Raytheon/Bell Helicopters.
HATS (Project Air 9000 Phase 7) has slipped from its original schedule. It was first announced in 2007, with aircrew training initially planned to start in 2013. Initial operational capability is now scheduled for late 2018.
The AUD$700 million HATS is designed to prepare Army and Navy for new-generation advanced combat helicopters, including the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk Romeo, NH Industries MRH90 Taipan multi-role helicopter and Boeing CH-47F Chinook.
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