LONG-STANDING plans to replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Bell 47G Sioux fleet moved ahead on October 13 with issue of a Request for Tender (RFT) for a new Training/Light Utility Helicopter (T/LUH) for the RNZAF. It was decided some time ago that the replacement helicopter would not train only rotary-wing pilots, but also be used in the light utility role. An invitation to register interest was issued in July 2005 (see RNZAF Training/Light Utility Helicopter Project Advancing, September 2005, p27).
The new RFT stipulates that the helicopter offered must be currently in production, have twin engines with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and an integrated digital cockpit utilising multi-function displays. It should have a flight management system and advanced autopilot installed, and be capable of being certified to FAR/JAR Part 27 or equivalent military standards. A secure military communications suite will also be required. A solution is being sought that minimises procurement costs by using maximum ‘off-the-shelf’ content and limiting non-recurring engineering costs.
Unlike the Sioux, which remains limited to the basic training role, the T/LUH will not only be used for ab initio helicopter pilot training, but also for advanced and Qualified Helicopter Instructor training, together with a full range of crewman training tasks. It will support the RNZAF’s recently-ordered NH90s in counter-terrorist and police operations. The helicopter offered must be suitable for training pilots and aircrewmen in all day and night VFR and IFR operations, including the use of night vision goggles, winching operations and carrying underslung loads.
A preference is also expressed for a helicopter with a retractable, wheeled undercarriage, for a variety of training and risk mitigation reasons, including deck operations. It will also provide conformity of lead-in training to the RNZAF’s NH90 and SH-2G Seasprite, plus some growth potential for future maritime light utility tasks. It is envisaged that the T/LUH will, at maximum all-up weight, be in the 3-tonne class. Delivery of a suitable Flight Training Device (FTD) will be another requirement, along with appropriate technical and integrated logistic support for both the helicopters and the FTD.