AW101 “Cormorant” / Merlin
The AW101 is a three-engine, medium-lift helicopter with combat-proven performance, serving with distinction in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 150 aircraft are in service with five NATO militaries and Japan. The AW101 is the medium/heavy multi-role platform with extensive operational experience gathered in both the Land and Maritime environments. It benefits from a modern design with embedded safety-enhancing features. Based on a common airframe and core system, it is configured to meet diverse roles for pre-dominantly Maritime and Utility tasks. The large cabin can carry up to 38 troops on crashworthy seats or 16 stretcher patients. Three GE CT7-8E engines, with a two engine cruise option to extend range or endurance, provide unparalleled performance in all environments. Agility, range, and endurance coupled with a comprehensive advanced avionics and mission system suite enable the aircraft to fulfil multiple tasks in one mission. Roles include troop transport, casualty evacuation, tactical and amphibious support, combat SAR, disaster relief, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, airborne mine countermeasures, long range search and rescue (SAR), maritime interdiction and airborne surveillance and area control (ASAC).
- AEW/ASAC For Airborne Early Warning/Airborne surveillance and Area Control missions, the AW101 is equipped with a 360º air surveillance radar and an integrated mission system with tactical two-way datalink.
- AMCM For Airborne Mine Countermeasure, the AW101 can be equipped with current and future AMCM towed equipment. AW101 long range mission endurance is ideal for mine hunting neutralisation and sweeping missions.
- AMPHIBIOUS SUPPORT The AW101 is ideally suited for Amphibious Support role due to its fully marinised airframe, large cabin for 26 fully equipped troops, cargohook for underslung loads and rear ramp which allows easy cabin access.
- ASW/ASuW The AW101 has the power and performance for autonomous, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare due to a fully integrated mission system with dipping sonar and sonobuoys, and a complete EW suite.
- C-SAR For Combat Search and Rescue, the AW101 can be equipped with up to 3 window and door mounted guns, Defensive Aids Suite and air-to-air refueling equipment.
- MILITARY UTILITY The AW101 has a range of over 750 nm (over 1300 km) and a cabin capable of carrying 26 fully equipped troops or over 5 tons of cargo and equipment. With the largest capacity cabin in its class, the AW101 offers greater mission flexibility. With five under floor fuel tanks, the AW101 can perform long range missions without auxiliary fuel tanks in the cabin.
- SAR With a range of 750 nm (over 1300 km) and a large capacity cabin, the AW101 is the world's most advanced and capable SAR helicopter available today. The AW101 has all the required attributes for a SAR helicopter: large cabin, long range, high cruise speed, all weather operating capability, reliability and safety. Its cabin can accomodate 30 plus survivors, SAR equipment and crew, and the cabin can be reconfigured in flight to meet mission requirements.
The AW101/EH101 is the medium/heavy multi-role platform of choice in its class with extensive operational experience gathered in both the Land and Maritime environments. It benefits from a modern design with embedded safety-enhancing features. Based on a common airframe and core system, it is configured to meet diverse roles for pre-dominantly Maritime and Utility tasks. The large cabin can carry up to 36 troops on crashworthy seats or 16 stretcher patients. Whether performing “hot and high” missions in Afghanistan or life-saving rescues in the most treacherous of maritime conditions, the AW101/EH101’s agility, range, and endurance coupled with a comprehensive advanced avionics and mission system suite enable the aircraft to fulfil multiple tasks in one mission.
The AW101/EH101 combines the most advanced technologies, mission systems and manufacturing expertise with a proven aircraft design. With the largest cabin in its class and with stand-up head room, excellent safety features and incorporating the latest in vibration reduction technology the AW101 is ideally suited to both the VVIP Head of State transport and to long range roles such as search and rescue and disaster relief operated by government agencies.
AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, and Thales unveiled an enhanced Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) capability, at RNAS Yeovilton on 10 July 2010 during the Fleet Air Arm’s annual Air Day. The low cost, low risk capability builds upon the combat proven Sea King Mk7 ASaC Cerberus mission system and Searchwater 2000 radar, to provide enhanced operational effectiveness through the use of the next generation AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter. AgustaWestland and Thales teamed to jointly explore the potential for this capability in advance of the keenly expected MoD requirement to replace the Sea King Mk7 ASaC aircraft after its planned retirement in 2016. The palletised Searchwater 2000 radar is deployed through the rear ramp aperture when in operation and stows in the cabin when not in use, enabling rapid transit between tasking. Two aft-facing modernised mission crew stations are located at the forward end of the cabin. The following key features and benefits are also included: Long range, look up/look down air, land and sea capability; Human Machine Interface optimised for two man operation; Fully integrated Link 16 Command and Control capability; Modern platform extends 360 deg radar horizon and significantly increases mission range and endurance. The palletised ASaC equipment also enables a front line re-role capability delivering greater aircraft utility. The ASaC equipment could be role fitted to all AW101 utility variants.
The maritime variant of the AW101 is in service with the Italian Navy and the UK’s Royal Navy having replaced the Sea King helicopter in a number of ship and shore based roles. Also the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) has chosen the AW101 for Airborne Mine Countermeasures and Antarctic Survey operations designated the MCH101 and the CH101 respectively.
The Italian Navy took delivery August 4, 2009 of its 21st AW101 three engine medium/heavy helicopter during an official ceremony held at Maristaeli Luni naval base in Italy. This Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)/Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) configured aircraft was the first unit of the last AW101 batch for the service which had committed to a total of 24 AW101s. The Italian Navy was already operating 8 ASW/ASuW, 4 HEW (helicopter early warning) and 8 amphibious support helicopters. The Italian Navy’s AW101s ASW and HEW variants are among the most advanced naval helicopters in service and had been successfully deployed on overseas operations providing a major contribution to international maritime operations. The long range and endurance of the AW101 combined with the capabilities of its sensors and onboard processers made it a highly effective naval helicopter.
Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program (VXX)
In the competition was Sikorsky and a team led by Lockheed Martin and a British-Italian company, AgustaWestland, for a $7 billion contract to provide 23-25 helicopters for the presidential fleet. A 1 May 2004 decision was initially expected on whether Sikorsky's VH-92, or Lockheed Martin's US101 would replace the Marine Corps' fleet of presidential helicopters, a contract Sikorsky had held since 1957. The US101 provided Agusta-Westland with the opportunity for a long sought-after breakthrough into the US military market, while Sikorsky was equally determined to win the competition to replace Sikorsky VH-3Ds and possibly VH-60s. The Department of Defense announced on January 28, 2005 that the team led by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, NY, had been selected to build the new presidential helicopter (VXX) based on its U.S. 101 medium lift helicopter. Due to increased cost and schedule growth the Secretary of Defense and USD (AT&L) directed cancellation of the program in the 15 May 2009.
On June 7, 2010 Boeing announced that it would secure a license from AgustaWestland for U.S. production of the AW101 medium-lift helicopter as an entry into the U.S. Navy VXX Presidential Helicopter Program. This license would give Boeing full intellectual property, data and production rights for the aircraft in support of the VXX program. Because of this arrangement, the aircraft will be a Boeing aircraft, built by Boeing personnel at one of its U.S. facilities. The aircraft was selected for the previous presidential helicopter program in which nine aircraft were delivered to the prime contractor by AgustaWestland. If the Boeing 101 helicopter was selected for VXX, Boeing would be the prime contractor and will design, build and deliver the aircraft. An industry-leading team of subcontractors, including AgustaWestland, was to work with Boeing to deliver this capability to the Navy. The renamed Boeing 101 helicopter is among three rotorcraft the company could offer to the US Navy. The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey and the Boeing CH-47 Chinook also remained [unlikely] candidates.
Northrop Grumman Corporation and AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company announced 18 September 2012 that they had signed a comprehensive teaming agreement to respond to anticipated requests for both the new Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter and the Navy’s recently announced program to develop a new “Marine One” Presidential Helicopter. A US built helicopter based on the AW101 platform will be offered by Northrop Grumman to meet these requirements. The teaming of Northrop Grumman’s management and systems integration expertise with AgustaWestland’s rotorcraft manufacturing and advanced helicopter design/development, offers both programs a mix of capability to bring the new combat rescue helicopter to the Air Force and the new Presidential helicopter to the Navy-Marine Corps team.
In November 2012 the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) re-opened the competition for the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program (VXX). Lockheed Martin is paired with Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, offering Sikorsky's S-92 helicopter. Lockheed's partner on the previous program, Finmeccanica SpA unit AgustaWestland, teamed with Northrop Grumman Corp, to submit a possible bid based on AgustaWestland 101 helicopter. Boeing is studying a possible bid based on its H-47 Chinook helicopter or the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that it builds with Textron Inc's Bell Helicopter unit.
AgustaWestland dropped out of the competition to build dozens of new combat rescue helicopters for the US Air Force, leaving United Technologies as the sole "name" bidder on that contract. On 11 December 2012- Northrop Grumman Corp and Italy's Finmeccanica SpA have decided not to bid for a $6.84 billion contract to build 112 new combat search and rescue helicopters for the U.S. Air Force. According to some sources, AW was still expected to bid in cooperation with Boeing on a contract to build the new VXX "Marine One "helicopter fleet for the US President.
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