Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has ordered nine Schweizer Aircraft 434s, becoming a launch customer for the turbine helicopter based on the MQ-4B military drone.
Under a program to build its capability to respond to emergencies in the Middle East kingdom, the ministry also ordered 16 S-92s and 15 S-76s from Schweizer’s parent, Sikorsky Aircraft. Those multi-mission aircraft and the 434s, which are to serve as trainers, constitute a major expansion and modernization of the ministry’s fleet, according to Sikorsky. It added the S-92s and -76s will be used for search and rescue, firefighting, medical evacuation, and emergency medical service patient-transfer missions, as well as security and traffic surveillance missions. The aircraft are set up to be re-configured quickly for each mission, the manufacturer said.
The transaction, in negotiation for well over a year, calls for fast-track procurement, with deliveries starting as soon as March.
The 434 will draw on the four-bladed rotor and dynamics used on the Northrop Grumman MQ-4B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, which is based on Schweizer’s Model 333 and is being developed for the U.S. Navy and Army.