01 JUNE, 2016 BY: CRAIG HOYLE LONDON
Norway’s first two AgustaWestland AW101s have been rolled out at the Leonardo-Finmeccanica company’s Yeovil assembly site in the UK, with the search and rescue (SAR) assets part of an at-least 16-unit production order for Oslo.
Being acquired via the Norwegian all-weather SAR helicopter (NAWSARH) programme, the heavy-lift rotorcraft will be used to replace an aged fleet of Westland Sea King 43s, which have been operated by the nation’s air force since 1973. Norway’s defence ministry – which also has an option to acquire a further six of the type – values the total acquisition at around DKr14 billion ($1.68 billion).
A first aircraft will be delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force in March 2017, with the defence ministry expecting this to be involved in a one-year programme of operational test and evaluation. The service’s remaining rotorcraft are scheduled to be transferred by 2020, with Leonardo Helicopters to also provide a 15-year package of training, in-service support and spare parts under its December 2013 contract.
Key mission equipment installed in the Norwegian AW101 configuration includes the first application for Leonardo’s Osprey active electronically scanned array radar. A trio of flat-panel sensors are fitted – in the aircraft’s nose and at the rear of each main landing gear sponson – to provide 360˚ surveillance capability. This equipment was fitted ahead of the first flight of an NAWSARH aircraft, which took place from Yeovil on 21 March.
Powered by three GE Aviation CT7-8 turboshaft engines, the helicopter is also equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor, automatic flight control system and two rescue hoists.
Norway’s basing plan for the new rotorcraft involves maintaining SAR cover from five air bases: Banak, Bodø, Orland, Rygge and Sola, with additional capacity to be provided at Floro, its defence ministry says.
Norway unveils world’s most advanced SAR Helicopter Image @aerotime.aero
New Osprey lightweight AESA radar system by Leonardo
Osprey comprises three flat panels, one on the front of the helicopter and two at the rear, facing out at angles to create the 360 degree field of regard. Space requirements are minimal and the helicopter’s belly is left clear, maximizing ground clearance for challenging rescue landings on rough terrain.
Osprey represents the latest in ‘E-scan’ technology, meaning that it uses electronic-only means to direct the radar beam – moving it from target to target in fractions of a second. Because of the speed of these changes in direction, the Osprey radar effectively provides simultaneous coverage in multiple directions.
FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE 380-HDc Sensor
The specific StarSAFIRE 380-HDc configuration selected for NAWSARH includes the latest high definition variants of infrared (IR), day-camera, and short wave infrared (SWIR) sensors, coupled with GeoLock high accuracy scene coordinate location, Moving Target Indication, and augmented image enhancement.
The Star SAFIRE 380-HDc represents a paradigm shift in airborne imaging, offering a previously unattainable combination of long stand-off observation capability in a compact physical size. The Star SAFIRE 380-HDc sensor system is now entering service in SAR operations, law enforcement, military, and border surveillance missions worldwide. The Star SAFIRE 380-HDc contains advanced payload configurations with multiple high definition sensors, including a full native high definition infrared camera with zoom optics, making the Star SAFIRE 380-HDc the world’s only commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) airborne system to provide real high definition thermal imaging in this class. Source helis.com
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Norway and AgustaWestland finalise deal for SAR AW101s – Fight Global