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ADF Joint Helicopter Aircrew Training School commences training

An Australian Army OH-58A Kiowa leads a Royal Australian Navy AS-350BA Squirrel and its replacement a Eurocopter EC-135 over the skies of Nowra, NSW. *** Local Caption *** On Friday 11 December, 2017, HMAS Albatross conducted ceremonial divisions. Divisions were hosted by Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, CSC and Bar, RAN, and reviewed by Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN.  The occasion marked the withdrawal from Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Service of the S-70B-2 Seahawk (Bravo) and the AS350BA Squirrel helicopters. Having served all three services of the ADF the Squirrel has accrued more than 179,000 flying hours in its 33 years of service. In the case of Navy the Squirrel has served in both peace and on war and war-like operation becoming affectionately known as the ‘Battle Budgie’.  The Seahawk has given the RAN more than 29 years of service accruing in excess of 88,000 flight hours. The ‘Bravo’ of 816 Squadron has been on continuous operational service since 1990; at total of 27 years and 54 rotations to the Middle East Region.

The H135 (back) has replaced the Squirrel (middle) and Kiowa (front) in service as the key component of the new ADF’s .Joint Helicopter Aircrew Training School (JHATS). (Defence)

The first group of students has commenced training on the ADF’s new training helicopter, the H135, at the HMAS Albatross-based Joint Helicopter Aircrew Training School (JHATS).

The JHATS, run by Boeing Defence Australia and its partners including Thales Australia welcomed the first 37 trainee pilots and aircrew at 723SQN on January 17 at the Naval Air Station near Nowra in NSW.

The school aims to train up to 116 students per year, after which they will progress on to operational type conversion with the Royal Australian Navy or Australian Army.

“Our mission is to train professional and resilient aircrew with the teamwork and decision making skills to fight and win in the land and maritime environment,” CMDR Bruce Willington, Commanding Officer of 723 Squadron said in a statement. “Boeing, Thales, Army and Navy have combined under 723 Squadron to deliver the best training possible for our junior aircrew.”

Boeing Defence Australia’s Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) program director, Darryn Fletcher added, “The on-time commencement of the first training course after a three-year development demonstrates the strength of collaboration between Boeing, its industry partners and the CoA to deliver important Defence capability.

“This world-class system allows students to gain confidence and competency in a safe and cost-effective manner on the ground using reality training devices before moving to the operational aircraft.”

The H135 (formerly designated EC-135 T2) replaced Navy’s Squirrel and Army’s Kiowa training helicopters in service. The AIR9000 Phase 7 HATS program acquired a common aircraft type and an increase in synthetic device training to centralise all ADF helicopter ab-initio training at Nowra.

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