DH - Defence Helicopter

RAN RMI 2 programme delivers Bell 429 upgrade

17th July 2013 - 15:51 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) Bell 429 helicopter has been upgraded to allow operations at an internal gross weight of 7,500lbs as part of the Retention and Motivation Initiative 2 programme (RMI 2).

The capability upgrade was delivered by Raytheon Australia in cooperation with the RAN under a $26 million four-year contract.

The 500lb increase in internal gross weight will allow the Bell 429 to fly further and for longer while carrying more people, and each 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.

Commodore Vincenzo Di Pietro, CSC, RAN Commander Fleet Arm, said: ‘The RMI programme provided through Raytheon Australia is a key enabler in ensuring the skills and competencies of junior aircrew are sustained whilst awaiting operational flying training.’

Michael Ward, managing director, Raytheon Australia, added: ‘As a trusted partner to the RAN, 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.’
 
The Bell 429 helicopters were introduced into service ahead of schedule in April 2012, under the RAN’s RMI 2 programme which enables junior qualified aircrew to consolidate and enhance their skills whilst awaiting operational flying training.

‘Together with our partner Bell Helicopter, we look forward to continuing to deliver on our commitments for the programme while exploring additional innovative capability upgrade opportunities for the platform over its lifecycle,’ Ward added.

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