Junior Royal Australian Navy helicopter crewmembers will soon be training on three leased AgustaWestland A109E Powers.
The service opted for the aircraft to help aircrews enhance their flying skills and make the transition from the Navy’s initial trainer, Eurocopter’s AS350 Squirrel, to the fleet’s Seahawk, Seasprite, and Sea King helicopters. AgustaWestland on Dec. 8, 2006 signed a four-year, $24-million Australian ($18.6-million) contract with Raytheon Australia, the Navy’s training contractor, and the Australian Naval Systems Command for turnkey operation of the aircraft starting this month. The multi-engine helicopters will be operated from the naval air station at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales.
AgustaWestland acquired two of the aircraft from the Swedish air force and the third from a civil operator in France. All three are to be modified and repainted in military colors prior to acceptance by the Navy. The single-pilot, all-weather helicopter, fitted with modern avionics and general rescue operations gear, are to be capable of conducting multi-role tasks both day and night.