Canberra – 17 July 2013: The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Retention and Motivation Initiative 2 program (RMI 2) has received a significant capability enhancement for its Bell 429 platform with the aircraft now upgraded to allow operations at an internal gross weight of 7,500lbs.
This 500lb increase in internal gross weight enhances capability for the RAN on this important program as it enables the aircraft to fly further and for longer while carrying more people.
With this upgrade, one aircraft can now execute substantially more tasks in a single mission. During conversion training, the endurance level for a sortie with a crew of four has increased by 35 per cent. Operationally, the radius of action has grown by 100 per cent for some missions and the payload has increased by two people. This means that for missions where the platform could previously take four crew members, it can now carry six and still fly for 20 minutes longer.
In addition to increasing mission duration, the platform’s avionics equipment has also been enhanced with the addition of a Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning System. This makes the Bell 429 helicopter even safer and more flexible as it delivers a lower mission risk profile during flights in challenging conditions.
Addressing this achievement, Commodore Vincenzo Di Pietro, CSC, RAN Commander Fleet Arm, stated that "the RMI program provided through Raytheon Australia is a key enabler in ensuring the skills and competencies of junior aircrew are sustained whilst awaiting operational flying training."
Raytheon Australia’s Managing Director Michael Ward also recognised this certification as a major milestone for the RAN. "As a trusted partner to the Royal Australian Navy, Raytheon Australia is proud to deliver this capability upgrade to enhance the RMI2 mission. Importantly, in addition to delivering greater endurance and more lift for the Bell 429 helicopter, this advancement will also reduce per mission costs. Together with our partner Bell Helicopter, we look forward to continuing to deliver on our commitments for the program while exploring additional innovative capability upgrade opportunities for the platform over its lifecycle."
The Bell 429 helicopters were introduced into service ahead of schedule in April 2012, under the RAN’s RMI 2 program which enables junior qualified aircrew to consolidate and enhance their skills whilst awaiting operational flying training.
As part of the $26 million four-year contract, Raytheon Australia’s program team work alongside the RAN at HMAS Albatross to provide three Bell 429 helicopters for 1,500 tasking hours per annum.
Selected by the RAN as the platform for the RMI2 program, the Bell 429 is the most modern and cost effective light twin helicopter on the market today.
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