AgustaWestland begins flying first Algerian AW101
AgustaWestland has begun test flying the first AW101 for the Algerian Armed Forces.
The aircraft, marked as G-17-610 and painted in primer, is understood to have made its first flight earlier this week from the company's Yeovil facility.
AgustaWestland won't comment on the Algerian contract but Rotorhub.com sources say the aircraft is the first of six purchased by the Algerians for SAR duties, they will operate alongside four Super Lynx, two of which are already built and undergoing test flying from Yeovil.
Pictures on the Internet of the aircraft show the aircraft are similar in configuration to those used by the Portuguese Air Force with a search radar under the fuselage just behind the cockpit.
The aircraft also features the AW101's updated tail rotor, first revealed at the Paris Air Show in June which give the aircraft improved control margins at higher weights and the ability to hover in 40 knot crosswinds.
They will be operated by crews from both the Algerian Air Force and Algerian Navy. Three crewmembers on the Lynx and four on the AW101s.
Recent reports continue to suggest the company is close or has secured an order for up to 100 new helicopters for to equip Algeria's military and parapublic agencies.
Reports say the first phase would deliver A109s and AW139s to the Algerian Gendarmerie National, UASN Police and Protection Civile paramilitary forces, starting early next year. A second phase would get under way later in 2010 and see the delivery of 15 AW101s for the Gendarmerie Nationale.
Key to this contract is a plan to locally assemble some of the aircraft in Algeria through a joint-venture company to be set up by AW and the Algerian Defence Ministry to try and build up the country's embryonic aviation industry.
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