US manufacturer wins more work as protracted Australian development continues

Kaman Aerospace has received new contracts worth A$21.8 million ($16.3 million) for the in-service support and continued development testing of the Royal Australian Navy’s Kaman Super Seasprite SH-2G(A) helicopters.


The awards come as Kaman hopes to complete qualification testing of the helicopter’s troubled integrated tactical avionics system (ITAS) by March, ahead of the navy’s planned acceptance of its first fully capable aircraft during June.

The US manufacturer had hoped to finalise development of the ITAS suite late last year, but testing during the third quarter encountered new problems that prevented it from starting final aircraft qualification activities (Flight International, 11-17 October 2005).

There are four separate awards, the largest of which is worth almost A$10 million and covers the provision of technical aircraft maintenance management services by Kaman’s Australian division until 2012.

The remaining three contracts – each worth around A$4 million – have been placed directly with Kaman Aerospace in the USA.

Kaman says Australia has now “requested and funded additions to the scope of work under the helicopter delivery contract associated with additional software testing not included in the original programme”. As a result, the company says, “there has been some mutually agreed schedule extension to the delivery of the first full-capability helicopter”.

The RAN has provisionally accepted nine SH-2G(A)s into service equipped with a limited ITAS capability developed for Kaman by Northrop Grumman and Computer Sciences. The service took delivery of its 11 Super Seasprite anti-submarine warfare helicopters between late 2003 and October 2004. The aircraft are also intended for use for surface surveillance and attack tasks and search and rescue missions.

The Australian Department of Defence’s annual report for 2004-5 released last November indicates that expenditure on the Super Seasprite programme had reached A$918 million by 30 June 2005. The delayed project has been cost capped at A$1 billion.


Source: Flight International