Refurbished Hinds delivered to Senegal

Senegalese Mil-24V-1 Hind-E attack helicopters 6W-HCB and 6W-HCC at the Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze 1 facility at Łódź-Lublinek airport, Poland.
Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze 1

The final two of three former Vzdušné sily Ozbrojených síl Slovenskej republiky (Slovakian Air Force) Mil- 24V-1 Hind-E attack helicopters were handed over to Senegal in a ceremony on November 30. The three helicopters were sold by Slovakia some years ago to a private company that subsequently sold them to the central African nation. They were completely overhauled by the Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze 1 (Military Aviation Works 1) facility at Łódź-Lublinek airport, Poland. The first machine, formerly Slovakian Air Force serial number 0708 (c/n 830708), was delivered to Dakar on January 12, 2017. It was subsequently registered 6W-HCA. The final two, the former 0813 (c/n 730813) wearing 6W-HCB and 0833 (c/n 730833) (6W-HCC), were delivered on board an Antonov Airlines An- 124-100M heavy transport.

H145M firing trials

HForce-configured H145M D-HADX at Pápa Air Base, Hungary during firing trials that included a 0.50 calibre FN Herstal HMP400 podded machine gun (on the right of the imge) and 2.75-inch unguided rockets from an FZ231 launcher (on the left). Anthony Pecchi/Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters completed initial live firing trials with its H145 fitted with the HForce weapons system in early November.

The trials were conducted at Pápa Air Base, Hungary, using H145M D-HADX and included the firing of 0.50 calibre FN Herstal HMP400 podded machine guns, 2.75-inch (70mm) unguided rockets from an FZ231 launcher and a 20mm Nexter NC621 cannon. HForce is an Airbus Helicoptersled plug-and-play weapons system offered as an option for three baseline helicopters, the H145M, H215 and H225. The system interfaces with the H145M crew either via a Thales Scorpion Helmet Mounted Sight Display or the helicopter’s Wescam MX-15 multisensor imaging system. The next stage of trials, employing Roketsan CiRiT 2.75-inch (70mm) laser-guided rockets will be conducted in Sweden before the end of the year. Nigel Pittaway

Belgium to deploy NH90s to Mali

Belgium’s Council of Ministers approved the deployment of two NH90 transport helicopters to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) along with 50 personnel on November 23. The aircraft will arrive in Mali during February 2018 and start flying troop transport and medical evacuation missions in March, taking over from German Heersflieger NH90s. The deployment will be for an initial four months, but could be extended for another two, using aircraft from 18 Squadron, 1 Wing, at Beauvechain Air Base. Guy Martin

Uzbekistan Mi-35Ms

On November 30, 2017, Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport and the Uzbekistani Ministry of Defence signed a contract for delivery of 12 Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters. According to Russian news agency TASS, the deliveries will begin in 2018. The contract was finalised following protracted negotiations during the visit to Uzbekistan of the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Alexander Mladenov

Last H215 for Ejército del Aire

The final Ejército del Aire H215 seen after landing at the Airbus Helicopters plant at Albacete. Behind is the second H215 bought by the Ejército del Aire (registered HD.21-18/802-18) starting engines for a test flight, prior to its delivery to the Gando, Canary Islands-based 82 Grupo in December.
Roberto Yanez

On November 23, the third and last Airbus Helicopters H215 for the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) arrived at the Airbus Helicopters facility at Albacete following a 3.5-hour flight from Marignane, France, the production facility where H215s and H225s are produced. The helicopter, still in primer and displaying the French registration F-WWOY, is to be customised for Ejército del Aire SAR requirements and painted. After completion of modifications and test flying, it was expected to be officially handed over to the Ejército del Aire as HD.21-17/802- 17 for 802 Escuadrón at Gando Air Base at the end of 2017, although it is understood that it will not be delivered to the unit until February 2018. Roberto Yanez

Nigerian Air Force Bell 412s

Nigerian Air Force Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has officially inducted into service the first of two impounded Bell 412 helicopters, which will be used to support anti-Boko Haram operations in the northeast of the country. As the helicopters had remained partially disassembled in containers for around two years, major systems and cameras had to be sent to the United States and Canada for overhaul and repair. They were originally destined for Rivers State to protect oil and gas facilities and were equipped with night vision equipment, armour plating and cameras, but were seized in November 2016 after the importer could not produce end-user certificates. They were handed over to the Air Force on January 27, 2017. Guy Martin

Lesotho Defence Force H125

Lesotho’s Defence Force has taken delivery of an H125 helicopter from Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa, and may acquire more rotorcraft in the future. The aircraft (serial number LDF-15) was commissioned into service by Lesotho’s Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki on October 14 and named Litsebe. Moleleki also inaugurated the upgraded 4,265ft (1,300m) runway at Mejametalana Air Base, which can now accommodate aircraft weighing up to 16,500kg (36,375lb). The improvements were carried out between 2013 and 2017. Looking to the future, Moleleki said the LDF faces the challenge of rapidly ageing medium utility aircraft and it is imperative that more helicopters be acquired. Guy Martin

Norwegian Merlin accident

The first Leonardo AW101 for the Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force) was delivered from the manufacturer’s final assembly plant at Yeovil, Somerset, UK, on November 17, 2017. A week later, on November 24, the aircraft, Norwegian serial number 268 (c/n 50268), was seriously damaged when it rolled on to its side at Sola Air Station, its new base. Before the accident, which occurred immediately outside its hangar, the aircraft had been taking part in an extensive series of test and evaluation exercises. The aircraft was scheduled to be unveiled to the public at a ceremony at Sola on December 20 and the type is due to enter service in 2018. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident. Jerry Gunner

Armada’s upgraded AB212

Seen lifting off from Albacete on its two-hour flight to Rota is Armada AB212 Plus HA.18-4/01-308, the fifth of seven helicopters to be modernised under a programme dubbed Programa de Extensión de Vida de los Helicópteros.
Roberto Yañez

The Armada (Spanish Navy) received its fifth modernised Agusta-Bell AB212 Plus on December 5, leaving just two helicopters to be delivered in 2018 to finalise its Programa de Extensión de Vida de los Helicópteros AB-212 (PEVH AB212, or AB212 Life Extension Programme). The helicopter flew from Babcock MCS España heliport at Albacete to Rota after the official ceremony, which was attended by representatives from the companies involved in the modernisation programme (Babcock MCS España and SENER).

Improvements in the upgrade programme are a new radar, an electronic flight information system, an electro-optical/infrared imaging system, an automatic identification system, terrain awareness and warning system, mission tactical computer, ballistic protection, full replacement of the electrical systems and a digital cockpit. All seven AB212 Plus helicopters assigned to 3 Escuadrilla are expected to remain in service for another 15 years. Roberto Yañez

AH-64Es arrive in Europe

The US Army’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (1 ACB) from the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas, has deployed the AH-64E Apache Guardian to Europe, as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the United States’ commitment to Eastern Europe after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, according to an announcement by the Stars and Stripes on November 9. The Brigade brought 86 helicopters (24 AH-64Es, 12 CH-47F Chinooks, 38 UH-60 and 12 HH-60 Black Hawks), together with 2,000 personnel to Europe. The unit relieved the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade (10 CAB), which had been on the continent for the previous nine months.

The 1 ACB helicopters crossed the Atlantic by sea and were unloaded at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in late October. Most will be based at the US Army’s headquarters at Illesheim, Germany, but smaller detachments will go to Latvia, Poland and Romania. Nigel Pittaway

Final weeks of the Lynx AH9

Lynx AH9A ZG885 assigned to 657 Squadron on Salisbury plain training area in early December.
Ian Harding

The Army Air Corps will bid farewell to the Westland Lynx AH9A during the first quarter of 2018. In service with 657 Squadron based at RAF Odiham, Hampshire, the last Lynx in UK military service will be formally decommissioned on March 31, 2018. Subject to weather conditions, the squadron is planning a farewell flypast of all the important locations around southern England on January 16, 2018.

The last of 22 upgraded Lynx AH9As, modernised under two urgent operational requirements issued in 2008 and 2010, was delivered to the Army Air Corps on December 15, 2011. The upgrades were required to improve the helicopter’s performance in the hot and high conditions of Afghanistan and included installation of more powerful LHTEC CTS800-4N engines, a modified gearbox, new engine controls and digital displays and a strengthened rear fuselage. Ian Harding