Kaman Aerospace says it expects to fly the first refurbished SH-2G(A) Super Seasprite prototype helicopter in the third quarter of this year.

It is the next key milestone in the manufacture of 11 upgraded aircraft destined for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Kaman chief test pilot George Haliscak says Aircraft 210, as the prototype is designated, has arrived at the company's Connecticut test facility, with efforts now focusing on preparing all the instrumentation for first flight.

"We're using Aircraft 580, which was our Egyptian prototype, as a risk reduction vehicle," adds Haliscak. "That includes gathering data for a full motion-based simulator and a huge amount of software evaluation.


"The more work we can complete up front will allow us to concentrate on integration of the systems on Aircraft 210."

The RAN's 11 SH-2G(A)s will be equipped with Penguin missiles and composite main rotor blades. The composite blades successfully completed flight tests earlier this year.

An advanced integrated tactical avionics suite (ITAS) being developed by Litton Guidance and Control Systems will enable a two-man crew to fly the aircraft and manage its multi-mission equipment suite.

A new, all-digital Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) is also under development for the A model which will fly the Super Seasprite through an automatic approach to the ship or search and rescue hover.

Kaman says the AFCS will reduce crew workload and will also enable the flight control system to be modified to suit changing mission requirements.

The earlier SH-2F and SH-2G relied on analogue aircraft stabilisation equipment to maintain heading, Doppler airspeed and barometric or radar altitude.


The Super Seasprites will operate from the RAN's eight ANZAC class frigates, with their main role being to increase the ships' surveillance capability. But the helicopters will also be equipped for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue and medevac missions.

Kaman says Australia will receive its first aircraft in December 2000, with two more single-unit deliveries early in 2001. Deliveries will then continue at the rate of one a month from June 2001 to January 2002.

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is also awaiting delivery of the first of four SH-2Gs, which differ significantly from the aircraft that Australia has ordered.

New Zealand has chosen to invest in the composite main rotor blades and the two-man cockpit, but retains the analogue auto-stabilisation systems.

Source: Flight Daily News