Saturday, July 2, 2011
India nears attack helicopter decision
The Indian Air Force is close to choosing between the AH-64D and the Mi-28NE, with a decision anticipated in the next two months, according to Apache manufacturer Boeing.
Speaking at the Paris Air Show, Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft, confirmed that both the flying tests and written evaluations of both aircraft had been submitted and a winner was likely to emerge in the third quarter of 2011.
If this timeframe is met, deliveries would start from 2014, with the first operational units being fielded in 2015.
Chadwick said a winner was also expected to emerge for the Indian Air Force's tender for 15 heavy lift helicopters by the end of the year, in a competition which pitches Boeing's CH-47F against the Mil Mi-26T2.
‘For the attack helicopter, the trials have completed, they completed the written evaluations and we expect it will be announced in within the next few months. On the heavy helicopter, that's about six months out - they have finished the flight evaluations and now they have to go through the process of the written evaluations and make a decision later this fall,' he said.
Chadwick was bullish about the future of the Chinook, noting that a $130 million capital investment in its Philadelphia production line, raising production to six per month, was a reflection of the reality that ‘if they can build more, they can sell more'.
Boeing is currently working with the US Army on its second multi-year contract for 155 CH-47F aircraft, with contract award expected in January 2013.
Chadwick was also upbeat about Bell's decision to fully hand the reins of the BA609 civil tiltrotor over to AgustaWestland, noting that its partner on the Bell-Boeing V-22 tiltrotor would be be able to devote greater focous to that programme.
‘Across rotorcraft there really is a clear dividing line between the commercial applications and military applications. Obviously we are not in the commercial business - it is a different business model. On the defence side, from Boeing's perspective I think this is great because now Bell will be focused 100% on the defence side of the tiltrotor business,' he argued.
He said that tiltrotor technology was expected to underpin Boeing's approach to the US Department of Defense's Joint Multirole (JMR) programme.
‘If you look at rotorcraft there are two differentiators - speed and reliability. And our whole focus and internal investment, and when we partner with others, has been focused on how do you take that and move it to the left, because it is a disruptive technology.
‘At this point in time all our investment has been internal and proprietary. Do I have Sikorsky (X2) like product I am going to roll out next week, no, but we have significantly invested in that area.'