Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Utility Helicopters Top Priority

DefenceNet reports that the leadership of the Hellenic Army has prioritised the selection of a new utility helicopter as well as the delivery of the NH-90 helicopters which have been on order for some time. The delivery of the NH-90 helicopters has once again stalled. Originally the delay was due to technical issues, the reason this time is financial.

At this stage 12 NH-90 helicopters of the original order of 20 are at various stages of construction. Their construction was halted when various contractual issues arose. Most countries which have ordered this helicopter have accepted delivery in IOC+ configuration, IOC meaning Initial Operational Capability. This configuration is one where many of the original problems are solved.

The problems of the Army Air Corps will not be solved with the delivery of only 20 NH-90 helicopters, however. The only readily available low cost option is to upgrade 30 year old UH-1H helicopters. This option stalled in 2004. The Unites States is unwilling to make available second hand Black Hawk helicopters due to the increased need for these in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hellenic Defence News note: The issue of the NH-90 programme was already flagged by us here. It seems inconceivable that the Army would select a new type of utility helicopter while not yet having accepted deliveries of its previous order. The Army does not have the luxury of operating several types of helicopters meant to do the same job.

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