Argentinian helicopter manufacturer Cicare has unveiled a locally built helicopter gunship named the CH-14 Aguilucho (Little Eagle).

The attack/scout helicopter prototype is aimed at addressing an existing Argentinian army requirement for a light attack and reconnaissance helicopter as well as the country's civil and paramilitary market. Cicare is partnered with the Argentinian army, CITEFA - the armed forces research and development centre - and other local agencies.

Responding to an army request launched in late 2005, Cicare kicked-off development work on the CH-14 in January 2006. Powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C20B turboshaft powerplant driving a two-blade semi-rigid main rotor, the helicopter employs Cicare-designed and developed main and tail rotor transmissions and other dynamic components.

 © Cicero
The attack/scout helicopter is to address an army requirement

At 1,450kg (3,190lb) maximum take-off weight, the CH-14 makes extensive use of composites throughout its airframe. Developed to meet FAR Part 27 specifications, the tandem-seat Aguilucho prototype flew for the first time in February and has since logged slightly more than 100h in its ongoing flight trials.

According to the company's chief executive Fernando Cicare, the certification campaign will be performed over 24-36 months. He says the prototype will be joined by three pre-production airframes that will be built by mid-2008.

"These will be configured as civil, military and paramilitary versions of the CH-14, each fitted out with equipment required for those markets," Cicare says.

Although a weapons suite has yet to be defined, Cicare says that the CH-14 is expected to afford a 350-450kg payload, which is also expected to have a forward-looking infrared sensor.

Notwithstanding the army's keen interest in the programme, Cicare indicates that the Argentinian army has not yet defined a requirement for how many CH-14s it intends to acquire, opting to wait for the "successful conclusion of the certification campaign".

The CH-14 is expected to perform first-level and advanced training duties for the army, as well as reconnaissance and light strike tasks. With local law enforcement agencies, the Aguilucho will be configured primarily for border surveillance and typical police work such as traffic control.