The program for the acquisition of six rescue helicopters for the Argentine Air Force and the Army is experiencing certain tensions between the Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) and the Chief of Staff. According to relevant sources, the agreement for the acquisition of the aircraft is already in its final phase, subtracting as the final step that is initialed by the head of the portfolio, Minister Agustn Rossi, but the slowness of the maximum governmental stage in transferring the assets. funds for the operation is holding it back.
It is known that the strongest candidates for the joint purchase project between the Argentine Army and the Air Force are the Bell 407 GXi and Airbus Helicopters H125. From the beginning, the North American house presented an offer for a dozen new machines and with financing that covers the entire contract, a key point within the organization chart of the Argentine ministry, since it is difficult to obtain adequate financial packages for a weak economy. like the one presented by the country of Plata today.
Bell’s offer also includes technology transfer for the local production of some inputs and rotables, and involving the state-owned FADEA in the operation, another favorable and decisive point that takes into account the Defense portfolio. Recall that the EA already has a significant number of Bell 206 and AB 206 helicopters, so there will be certain commonalities in case of selecting the American product.
The collapse of the Argentine economic situation made it necessary to modify the initial requirement, which was reduced to only six helicopters, from the original of a dozen machines, for this reason, the negotiations dragged on until finally the MINDEF obtained it as it desired- a financing plan that covers one hundred percent of the operation. The acquisition process will be carried out through a financial package offered by Canadian Commercial Corporation, an organization that provides facilities for State-to-State purchases and that was already used for the acquisition of Bell 412 helicopters. After the signing of a contract, the aircraft will be supplied quickly.
As we are mentioning a joint purchase, the military institutions had to present and meet operational requirements with the sole detail that the program was renamed Rescue Helicopter and not High Mountain, as was the initial objective. This is because the Bell 407 or the Airbus H125, among other missions, They must replace the noble and veteran SA-315B Lama, who still continue to provide valuable service in the Andean area, despite the increasing difficulties in keeping aircraft in service.
The Bell 407GXi, as the model presented, is powered by a Rolls-Royce Model 250-C47E / 4 with a maximum take-off power of 643 kw / 862 shp, which allows a maximum cruising speed of 246 km / h. . Its internal space allows it to accommodate a crew member plus six passengers. As we recently reported, FADEA started the revision and maintenance of thrusters for this class of helicopters, which increases the preference towards them.
The navcom and avinica suite is provided with Garmin G1000H NXi, a system that includes synthetic vision and terrain evasion alert. The pilot has two high definition LCD screens that support two integrated GIA 64H avionics units, with GPS / WAAS locator, communications and Garmin GTX 345 transponder. The presentation model was operated in different situations and sectors of the country showing good performance. operability and ease of maintenance.
The model of the European house, the Airbus H125, is an old acquaintance, since a good number of machines regularly fly in the country in the hands of security and police forces and even a good number of the B3 version, specialized in operating at low temperatures. great altitudes and temperatures.
Moreover, the police force of the Province of Mendoza has long taken responsibility for the rescue of mountaineers who intend to reach the top of the highest mountainous height, Aconcagua. There, these aircraft have done a very good job for this dangerous mission and have virtually replaced Air Force helicopters for the rescue mission. By the way, the Airbus machine is the preferred one for aeronautics, although the opinion that indicates that the Bell option would be more appropriate due to the commonality of means and the support that it has always provided to the Argentine Armed Forces through the years.
Whether or not it is real, the reluctance of the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers to authorize the amounts for this acquisition, it is clear that there is a pressing need in the military forces for the provision of these helicopters. The delays in the negotiations and the resolution of the same in some real contract, show us the usual Argentine disposition to eternalize the acquisition programs, despite today, the existence of the much publicized FONDEF that, in theory, should provide the necessary funds for these operations, which are of smaller amounts for a country that has a large general budget. (Luis Pieiro)
Photo: BELL products take precedence among forces.
The H125 is flexible and efficient.
The AIRBUS H125 can operate in multiple facets.
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