CHC secures Navy SAR contract

CHC Group will provide search and rescue (SAR), aeromedical evacuation (AME) and crash response services for the Royal Australian Navy at HMAS Albatross, Nowra under an interim 15-month contract.

The company said on Monday it had deployed an AW139 helicopter to Nowra from its global pool of SAR assets to fulfil the contract. The aircraft is compliant and certified to the latest standards for crash resistance and has been used for similar SAR services in the United Kingdom.

Provision of interim SAR, AME and crash response services would be delivered at HMAS Albatross until the proposed commencement of an Australian Defence Force (ADF) wide contract in 2018.

CHC said the AW139 aircraft would provide search and rescue coverage for all naval helicopter operations in support of aircrew training as well as Navy fleet exercises in the East Australian Exercise Area.

The company noted it now provided search and rescue, AME and crash response services to Royal Australian Air Force, the Army and Navy.


Source : Australian Aviation

Defence completes tender evaluation for Special Purpose Aircraft managing contractor role

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As part of a plan to replace the VIP transport service operated by the Royal Australian Air Force from mid-2019, Defence has confirmed that it intends to enter into contract negotiations with a preferred tenderer for the role of managing contractor, having completed a tender evaluation process.

The managing contractor will manage the establishment, delivery and long-term sustainment of the new service on behalf of the Commonwealth.

“Defence is actively working with industry through a competitive, staged procurement process to develop considered options for the Special Purpose Aircraft fleet beyond current contract expiry in mid-2019,” a spokesperson for Defence told sister publication Australian Defence Business Review on May 4.

“Defence intends to present a range of potential options to Government for consideration, including revised support services and considerations for potential fleet replacement in the future.”

In November 2015, Defence released a request for proposal (RFP) seeking a managing contractor to provide services for the maintenance, support and replacement of the Special Purpose Aircraft (SPA) fleet.

The purpose of the RFP, which closed in February 2016, was to identify and assess the feasibility, risk, affordability, value and overall suitability of the range of available capability options and managing contractor methodologies.

Defence undertook an evaluation, and two companies were shortlisted from the RFP respondents in June 2016.

In August 2016, Defence initiated a project definition study to engage with the shortlisted respondents to collaboratively finalise contract requirements and develop a request for tender (RFT).

The RFT was then released to the two shortlisted companies in December 2016, and in February this year the industry respondents tabled their tenders to Defence.

“This tendering activity does not in itself constrain Government consideration to a replacement Special Purpose Aircraft fleet mix – including aircraft type – or when replacement is to occur,” the Defence spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Defence stated that it has exercised options to extend the current SPA maintenance and support arrangement with Northrop Grumman Integrated Defence Services (IDS) until September 2019 to align with the lease terms of the current fleet.

Northrop Grumman IDS (previously Qantas Defence Services) has since 2001 delivered through-life support to 34 Squadron at Defence Establishment Fairbairn, which operates the current SPA fleet of two Boeing Business Jets (BBJs) and three Bombardier Challenger 604s. All five aircraft, which are leased rather than Commonwealth-owned, entered service in 2002. They are still relatively young aircraft in terms of flying hours, with the fleet recently passing the 50,000 flying hour milestone. 

Separate to the SPA process the RAAF’s VIP capabilities are also set to bolstered with the delivery of a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport modified to support long-range government VIP transport needs. It is due for delivery in late 2019.

Source : Australian Aviation

PHOTOS: C-17 load trials for M777 Howitzer

The Department of Defence has released images of load trials of an Army M777 Howitzer artillery piece on a RAAF C-17 airlifter.

The trials, held on April 20 at RAAF Base Amberley, marked the first time an Australian Army M777 had been loaded on a RAAF C-17.

“The trials will help inform future practice with loading and deploying the M777 by C-17A, including exercises and operational deployments,” Defence said.

The 155mm M777 entered service with Army’s 1 Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery in late 2010. Built by BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness in northern England and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, it is also used by the US Marine Corps and US Army, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Australian Aviation

Defence confirms Block 3i Final upgrade for RAAF F-35As

An Australian F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (A35-002) at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona (USA) with its weapons bay open during the loading of the 500lb Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb, the GBU-12, prior to the aircraft's first ever weapons release. The weapons release took place over the Barry M Goldwater Range just west of Luke Air Force Base, Arizona on (insert date) with Australian pilot Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson flying the sortie.   A35-002 is one of two Australian F-35A aircraft operating out of the F-35 International Pilot Centre at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.    The Weapons Release marks another significant progress milestone in the Australian F-35A Program.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters have been upgraded with the final iteration of the aircraft’s Block 3i interim software release, the Department of Defence has confirmed.

“The two Australian F-35A have been loaded with the final release of Block 3i (3iP6) during September 2016,” a Defence spokesperson told Australian Aviation via emailed statement on January 4. 

“Among other capabilities, the 3iP6 software enabled the aircraft to conduct its first weapons release.”

That first weapons release was conducted in December when F-35A A35-002 released a 500lb GBU-12 laser-guided bomb from its starboard side internal weapons bay over the Barry M Goldwater range in southwest Arizona.

A35-002 is one of the first two RAAF F-35As that are currently based at Luke Air Force Base, west of Phoenix. The aircraft were built with an earlier Block 3i software load which restricted them to an interim training and warfighting capability.

The next block of software is Block 3F, and is the final release of software under the System Development and Demonstration phase, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017,” the Defence spokesperson said.

Australian Aviation

Restored Lockheed Hudson Bomber finds new home at Canberra Airport

A Lockheed Hudson bomber, part of the Australian War Memorial's collection is now on display at Canberra Airport. (Paul Sadler)

The Australian War Memorial is displaying a fully-restored Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed Hudson bomber at Canberra Airport as part of efforts to raise awareness about the institution.

Hudson A16-105 made its first flight in 1938 and has been restored to its wartime configuration of December 1942.

Acquired by the AWM in 2001, A16-105’s subsequent restoration took four years to complete and featured more than 5,800 parts and tools, as well as hours of research on the colour scheme and internal fitout.

Getting the aircraft positioned on display inside the terminal was a collaboration between Canberra Airport, Virgin Australia and the Australian War Memorial.

Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson noted the aircraft, which is now situated on the departures level near the Virgin checkin counters, had both a military and commercial history.

“This Hudson bomber and the brave young men who flew it during the dark days of the Second World War defended our nation’s freedoms and vital interests. The aircraft then played its part in expanding commercial aviation in the post-war era,” Dr Nelson said.

It would also help raise awareness of the Australian War Memorial.

Virgin chief executive John Borghetti said the airline’s contribution to the project was part of the airline group’s efforts to commemorate Australia’s armed forces.

“We are very proud to support the display of the Hudson aircraft at Canberra Airport, which is a unique opportunity for people travelling to and from our nation’s capital to engage with an important part of Australian history and remember those who have served,” Borghetti said in a statement.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron said: “Our efforts to promote the Memorial’s work dovetails with our commitment to consistently promote all the wonderful things that our city has to offer.”

The aircraft’s display was also welcomed by Raydon Gates, chief executive of Lockheed Martin Australia.

“The Hudson made an important contribution to Australia’s defence during the Second World War, and this installation serves as an important reminder that the relative peace and prosperity we enjoy today as a nation was hard earned,” he said.

Lockheed Martin Australia is a benefactor of the Australian War Memorial.

Canberra Airport’s photographer captured some of the highlights from the official unveiling ceremony:

A Lockheed Hudson bomber, part of the Australian War Memorial's collection is now on display at Canberra Airport. (Paul Sadler)

A Lockheed Hudson bomber, part of the Australian War Memorial's collection is now on display at Canberra Airport. (Paul Sadler)

A Lockheed Hudson bomber, part of the Australian War Memorial's collection is now on display at Canberra Airport. (Paul Sadler)

A Lockheed Hudson bomber, part of the Australian War Memorial's collection is now on display at Canberra Airport. (Paul Sadler)

Australian Aviation

First RAAF P-8A arrival marks beginning of a “5th gen maritime surveillance force”


The first of a planned fleet of 15 Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft for the RAAF was officially welcomed in Canberra on Wednesday by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies.

P-8A serial A47-001 touched down in Canberra shortly before 1pm after making the short hop from Avalon, near Melbourne, where Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton had boarded the aircraft. The jet had arrived in Australia at Avalon on Monday after being ferried across the Pacific by its 11 Squadron crew from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida via Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Hawaii and Auckland.

“P-8 is certainly the future, it is the generational leap that we are going to make in the maritime domain. It has greater range, it certainly has greater connectivity, it has advanced acoustics and it has a radar system that is world class,” Air Marshal Davies told media after the aircraft’s arrival.

“When we integrate this with Triton in the early 2020s, with the Air Warfare Destroyer, Future Frigate and both our submarine classes we’ll have a fifth generation maritime force.”


Australia has contracted to acquire 12 P-8As to be delivered by March 2020, with the likely approval of a further three planned to take the total fleet to 15.

Acquisition of an initial eight P-8As was first approved in 2014, while February’s Defence White Paper’s accompanying Integrated Investment Program revealed that, “seven additional aircraft [will] be acquired in two tranches to bring the total to 15 aircraft by the late 2020s.”

Approval of the first additional tranche of four P-8s was subsequently announced by Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne at the RAAF’s Air Power Conference in Canberra in March.

The aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh and will replace the RAAF’s ageing AP-3C Orion aircraft, to be complemented by the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.

A47-001 was due to depart Canberra for Edinburgh on Thursday morning.




Australian Aviation

Royal Australian Air Force celebrates centenary of first flying squadrons

No 1 Squadron with an F/A-18F Super Hornet on the Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 Squadrons Centenary parade held at RAAF Base Williamtown.

An F/A-18 Hornet flys over the No 1, 2, 3 and 4 Squadron Centenary parade held at RAAF Base Williamtown.

The Royal Australian Air Force has marked the centenary of Australia’s first military flying squadrons, Nos 1, 2, 3 and 4 Squadrons, with a colours parade and family day at RAAF Base Williamtown on Friday.

All four units were formed as part of the Army’s Australian Flying Corps in 1916 during the First World War. Their rich histories were marked by a full colours parade reviewed by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and featuring flypasts of current and historic aircraft types operated by the units.

“Importantly, centenary events have brought into focus the dedication, commitment, sacrifice and exemplary service of Army and Air Force personnel past and present highlighting the enduring spirit of mateship, with the opportunity to come together as one, in celebration of a proud history that continues with ongoing operations today,” Group Captain van Haren, officer-in-charge of the Centenary Planning Committee, said.

“Centenary celebrations have been simple, yet elegant acknowledgments of the contributions and achievements of Number 1, 2, 3 and 4 Squadrons throughout the last 100 years. Building on Air Force’s earliest beginnings, with the formation of the Australian Flying Corps, Air Force has transitioned into the modern integrated force that we know today.”

Today 1 Squadron is based at RAAF Base Amberley and flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet, while 2, 3 and 4SQNs are based at Williamtown and operate the E-7A Wedgetail, F/A-18A/B ‘classic’ Hornet and PC-9/A respectively.

“Today’s celebrations have also provided the opportunity to thank Defence family members for ‘their’ service – acknowledging the important contributions of parents, grandparents, spouses and children and the support they have provided and continue to provide serving personnel,” GPCAPT van Haren said.

The December issue of Australian Aviation will feature indepth coverage of the centenary.


Australian Aviation

RAAF KC-30 tanker to be modified for VIP transport

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport during boom refuelling trials in the United States.


One of the two additional Airbus A330-200s being converted into KC-30A tanker transports for the Royal Australian Air Force is set to be modified with a VIP interior to support long-range government transport needs, Defence has confirmed.

“In addition to its primary role as an air-to-air refueller, the aircraft will provide the secure communications capability, range and passenger capacity to support long-range travel required to enable international engagement with our partners in, for example, North America, Europe and north Asia,” a Defence spokesperson told Australian Aviation sister publication Australian Defence Business Review.

“The modified aircraft will support long-range government transport with accommodation, meeting facilities and communications to allow conduct of normal business in transit.”

The government approved Project AIR 7403 Phase 3 for the acquisition of two additional KC-30As in June 2015. These two aircraft – secondhand ex-Qantas aircraft – will be converted to tanker configuration by Airbus Defence and Space at Getafe, Spain through this year and next.

Further approval to progress the program to modify one of these aircraft to support long-range government transport was granted on February 12 this year. And then on August 3, a contract was signed with Airbus for the modification work on one KC-30A, which includes a government transport and communications capability.

“Detailed design for the modification is ongoing,” the spokesperson said. “However, in broad terms the capability will provide accommodation, secure communications, a meeting room, a working area and airline-style seating.

“The modified aircraft would retain its refuelling capability to respond to Australian Defence Force needs, such as Operation Okra in the Middle East, but will also have the flexibility to conduct long-range government transport.”

The ‘Air-to-Air Refuelling Aircraft – Government transport and communications capability’ program, as outlined in the Integrated Investment Program, is valued at $190 million.

Airbus Defence and Space has subcontracted the government transport modifications to Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg. The capability is scheduled to be delivered in 2019.


Australian Aviation

Boeing rolls out first Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon

The RAAF’s first P-8A Poseidon has made its debut. (Boeing Defense, Space & Security)

The first Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has been formally revealed in a ceremony at Boeing Field, Seattle, on Tuesday.

The aircraft, wearing RAAF serial A47-001 and 11 Squadron albatross tail markings, is due to arrive in Canberra on November 15, flown by an Australian crew, according to the RAAF’s website.

Fifteen P-8As are set to replace the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion fleet, together with the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.

The P-8A is equipped with advanced sensors and mission systems, including an advanced radar, high-definition cameras, and an acoustic system that is said to have four times the processing capacity of the Orion.

A47-001 competed its maiden flight, from Renton where it was assembled to Boeing Field, where its mission systems were installed, on May 6.

Boeing Defence, Space and Security tweeted some highlights of the aircraft’s debut:


Australian Aviation

RAAF’s 2FTS hosts female pilot forum

Former Female Graduates of No. 2 Flight Training School pose for a group photo with a PC-9 Aircraft

No 2 Flying Training School (2FTS) has marked the graduation of the 100th pilots course since the first RAAF women pilots gained their ‘wings’ in 1988 with a Female Graduates Forum.

The inaugural two-day event held at RAAF Base Pearce early this month saw current and former Air Force and Navy women pilots discuss their experiences.

“The objective of the forum was to identify the barriers to female peak performance at 2FTS and find solutions to remove those barriers,” 2FTS commanding officer WGCDR David Strong told Air Force News.

Forum participants included Robyn Williams and Deb Jeppesen (nee Hicks), the first Air Force women pilots, who graduated from 144 Pilots Course, as well as 79 Squadron Hawk 127 instructor pilot FLTLT Sue Freeman, a lateral recruit from the Royal Air Force who has flown Tornado fast jets on operations over Iraq.

“Having a look at the statistics of 2FTS and the fact we still have a higher pass rate for males, and with the emphasis from senior leadership on diversity and capability, we thought it was important to do something about the way we do business,” FLTLT Belinda Beatty told Air Force News of the forum.

“We thought we would bring back the people most affected by this – the women themselves – and get their opinion on it.”

The event coincided with the graduation of 244 Pilots Course. Of the 15 graduates of the course, four were women (three from the RAAF and one from the RNZAF).

As of January 2016 of the over 800 pilots in the RAAF just 29 (or less than four per cent) were women.

First RAAF women pilots

More broadly the issue of female under-representation and diversity was discussed at the Air Force’s biennial Gender Conference held in Canberra mid-month.

“For some time now, debate about gender issues and workplace equality has largely been focused on women. While it is true that woman are under-represented in Air Force, and we need to improve the number of women, workplace opportunity and equality is for all members and all leaders,” Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies, said in a statement.

“This means removing barriers, removing bias and discrimination, and including representation from all parts of Australian society that share our Air Force values to ensure we have full representation within our Air Force. Diversity is about capability and enhancing our workplace.”

The conference theme was “The difference I bring is the value I add”.

“Equality is about providing everyone with the opportunity to participate – this means different people at different points in their lives may need extra help,” AIRMSHL Davies said.

Australian Aviation