UK-based QinetiQ has invested in three more helicopters as part of the continuing modernisation of its fleet.
The defence technology company announced on April 19 that the new aircraft comprise two Agusta A109S Grand helicopters and a Leonardo AW139, which has been fitted with an integrated electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera turret and a modern, complex avionics suite. They are due to achieve initial operating capability this summer and will be used for both customer test and evaluation projects, as well as training with the Empire Test Pilots School.
All three helicopters are second-hand and are being supplied by Castle Air Ltd of Trebrown in Liskeard, Cornwall. The aircraft have been registered as follows: A109S G-ETPN (c/n 22119, ex N519CG), built in 2009, registered on March 10, 2021; A109S G-ETPO (c/n 22165, ex XA-UNU), built in 2010, registered on March 18, 2021; and AW139 G-ETPP (c/n 31768, ex B-725D), built in 2018, registered on March 10, 2021.
As with every airframe in the QinetiQ fleet – which is based at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire – they will also benefit from additional enhancements including comprehensive flight test instrumentation suites. Another recent acquisition by QinetiQ has been Airbus Helicopters H145 – registration G-RNGS (c/n 20215), registered on May 28, 2020.
This is a new production helicopter operated on behalf of QinetiQ by Castle Air, which announced on November 20 that it had arrived at Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland, to begin flying for QinetiQ. It is providing the Range Helicopter Service on behalf of the Ministry of Defence’s nearby, QinetiQ-operated, British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre and the MoD Hebrides Range.