Italy’s air force has begun the entry into service of its HH-101A “Caesar” special operations helicopter.
Service leaders introduced dignitaries and the media to the Caesar in ceremonies June 19 at Cervia Air Force Base, about 40 miles south of Venice.
AgustaWestland customized the Caesar, which is based on its AW101, to air force specifications for a multi-mission, medium-lift platform. Delivered to the 15th Wing based at Cervia, the HH-101A will provide air support for special operations and conduct personnel recovery and search and rescue missions.
Air force officials said the helicopter also will be used to intercept slow-moving aircraft. Fitted for an air-to-air refueling kit, it also may be deployed abroad to support operations beyond Italy’s borders.
The HH-101A is designed to carry as many as five crewmembers and 20 fully equipped troops, or six crewmembers and eight special forces troops. It has M134 7.62 mm miniguns installed on right and left sides and on the rear ramp; armored cockpit seats; ballistic protection for machine gun operators and critical systems; and an integrated electronic warfare system for protection against radar, laser and infrared threats.
The 15th Wing’s 81st Search and Rescue Training Center operates AW139s and AgustaWestland-built Sikorsky HH-3Fs. Its 641st Communication Flight flies NH-500Es (license-built MD500 Defenders).
Canada has taken official delivery of six CH-148 Cyclones from Sikorsky Aircraft. The Cyclones will replace Canada’s aging CH-124 Sea Kings, whose retirements should commence once the CH-148s enter service. Canadian forces are training and testing crewmembers on the six aircraft, which are intended to perform a range of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and utility missions. Canada has ordered 28 Cyclones, which are customized versions of Sikorsky’s S-92.
Russian Helicopters is evaluating whether or not to restart production of the Mi-14, a helicopter developed by Mil for the Soviet navy and operated by allies of the USSR such as Cuba, East Germany, Libya and Syria. If production is resumed, new Mi-14s would be produced by Kazan Helicopter Works.
The Indian Air Force and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. have completed hot-weather testing of the Light Combat Helicopter in Jodhpur. That Western Indian city has an average temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but temperatures in July can reach 100 degrees. The third technology demonstrator was used for the testing. The multi-role combat helicopter is based on HAL’s Dhruv. Initial operational clearance for the LCH is expected by the end of this year. Production of the helicopter is slated to start in 2017 or 2018.
Korea Aerospace Industries on June 25 signed contracts covering development of the Light Armed Helicopter and the Light Civil Helicopter with the South Korean government and has begun those development projects. It is partnered with Airbus Helicopters on the work. The contracts together are worth approximately $1.4 billion. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration will pay more than $500 million in development costs, while the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will pitch in more than $300 million for the civil helicopter program.