Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Navy Gets Some Badly Needed Helicopters

Chile's Navy recently took delivery of two Eurocopter Super Puma helicopters that were bought used from a private company. The AS332L Super Pumas are equipped for transport, patrol and search & rescue missions. With room for more than a dozen troops, they are large enough to carry a squad for interdiction operations. Up to now, the Navy had only one other similar Cougar helicopter capable of such a passenger load; its Dauphin light helicopters are exclusively for patrol and SAR. Chile's Navy has been a longtime operator of the Super Puma/Cougar helicopter family. It acquired seven in 1990: six for anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare and one for transport. Two of the weaponized helicopters have been lost to accidents, leaving just four still in service plus the three now operating as as transports. The Navy's Proyecto Ícaro envisioned the acquisition of five transport helicopters, but funding for the full program never materialized. With the arrival of a new multi-role ship, interest has increased to add ship-borne helicopters, and the head of the Navy's aviation arm, Rear Adm. Alberto Undurraga, told Soychile.cl that hopes are to secure funding for the three remaining aircraft in the "medium term."

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