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Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) has been awarded a contract to train helicopter pilots from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) over the next 25 years.

Under the A$600m ($524.7m) JP 9000 phase seven, helicopter aircrew training system (HATS) contract, the company has partnered with Thales to develop a low-risk solution around the Airbus EC135 T2+, to better prepare Australian Army and navy pilots as they switch to the ADF’s current combat helicopter fleet.

BDA managing director and vice-president Kim Gillis said: "We will meet the needs of the ADF through a balanced programme that makes the most of its cadre of instructors, supported by flight simulators and computer-based instruction and training aircraft."

Australian Defence Materiel Organisation Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems and Guided-Weapons Division Helicopters head rear admiral Tony Dalton said: "This contract will introduce a modern helicopter training system that will support the next generation of army and navy aircrew transitioning to our modern combat helicopter."

Thales Training and Simulation business vice-president Jean-Jacques Guittard said: "These advanced technologies will ensure the next generation of Australian military helicopter pilots has access to some of the best training solutions on the market."

"This contract will introduce a modern helicopter training system that will support the next generation of army and navy aircrew."

The training system will include a purpose-designed syllabi based on 15 Airbus EC-135 glass-cockpit training helicopters and three full-motion Thales EC 135 flight simulators. It will also include a flight deck for the navy’s new sea-going training vessel, HMAS Albatross.

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Specifically, the system will train the army and navy for advanced combat helicopters such as the Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter, MRH-90 Taipan and MH 60R Seahawk Romeo, as well as the new CH-47F Chinook Foxtrot.

The initial operating capability for HATS is scheduled to be declared in late 2018.

However, the system will start receiving students before then, with a mature annual training capacity of up to 130 students covering pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrew, sensor operators and qualified aircrew returning instructor training.

Image: Thales is supplying three EC135 Reality H full-flight simulators and a suite of other synthetic training devices for the ADF’s helicopter aircrew training system. Photo: courtesy of Thales.

Defence Technology