Saturday, May 4, 2013

Army Stepping Up Aviation Modernization

AS 532 Cougar
Chile's Army has acquired a medium helicopter, is buying three more and is moving forward with plans to purchase attack helicopters and new fixed-wing aircraft. Three AS 532 Cougar helicopters have been budgeted, while another Cougar (with a cost of $25 million) is due for delivery in a matter of weeks, according to reports in Jane's Defence Weekly. The Cougar already is the backbone of the Army's aviation brigade, and plans are to create an air-mobile brigade with as many as 24 transport helicopters. To that end, Jane's reported the Army is considering the Eurocopter Tiger as a fire-support platform. The Netherlands has offered Chile a dozen used AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. But you can never count out Eurocopter, which has a close relationship with the Chilean military. If Chile opts for attack 'copters, it would probably scuttle a program to acquire light attack helicopters. Plans to replace the CASA-212 and CASA-235 light transport planes have taken on a greater urgency, Jane's said. The magazine reported that the entire transport fleet found itself grounded at a November joint exercise. (Makes you wonder if the lack of parts and maintenance was timed to coincide with the exercise, thus dramatizing the need for new planes.) The Army wants to acquire at least four transport planes. The C27J Spartan and Airbus C-295 are under consideration. Currently, Army aviation operates two C-235s and three C-212s.

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