Raytheon Australia submits Air 9000 Phase 7 tender

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Raytheon Australia has submitted its tender for Australia's Air 9000 Phase 7 Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) competition, pitching the Bell 429 light twin helicopter as its training platform.

"Our proposal outlines a mature, deliverable and sustainable training solution which maps precisely to the Commonwealth's training requirements," says Raytheon Australia president Michael Ward.

"Providing a strong growth path with the necessary flexibility for future training, we also offer the strongest commitment to safety and a solution which is designed for support through the best possible sustainment solution."

The Raytheon-led bid team includes Bell Helicopter, military consulting and training firm Milskil, defence engineering firm Nova Systems, and simulator firm Virtual Simulation Systems.

©Raytheon Australia

Raytheon Australia lists several reasons that it feels qualify the Bell 429 for the requirement.

"In addition to being the only light twin helicopter fully certified to the latest crashworthiness standards, the large cockpit of the Bell 429 is capable of handling the full range of pilot candidates with the most spacious and useful rear cabin in its class."

Raytheon Australia is familiar with the Bell 429, as it is already providing three examples under the Australian navy's Retention and Motivation (RMI) 2 programme, which provides flight training to junior qualified aircrew.

Other teams bidding for the Air 9000 Phase 7 tender include BAE Systems/CAE/AgustaWestland, Eurocopter unit Australian Aerospace, Boeing/Thales, and Lockheed Martin/Bristow Helicopter.

Air 9000 Phase 7 aims to provide a comprehensive training package that includes facilities and aircraft for the joint training of Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army helicopter pilots. It will see a single type replace the navy's Eurocopter AS350 Squirrels and the army's OH-58 Kiowas.

Australia's Defence Materiel Organisation has not specified the number of helicopters to be operated, leaving it up to bidders to submit their suggestions. It estimates the cost of the programme to be between A$500 million ($530 million) and A$1 billion. The request for tender was issued in January.