ACT News

Defence wants to build helicopter training base at Jervis Bay and Nowra

The construction of a helicopter training base at Jervis Bay airfield, part of the ACT, and Nowra, that makes greater use of simulators will be scrutinised by federal parliament's public works committee.

Defence is buying new naval combat helicopters that require the training facilities to be built at the two sites, at a cost of $157 million.

The base will also combine training for navy and army aircrew and will replace the "rudimentary" simulators, which are not able to train crews for the new fleet of sophisticated twin-engine helicopters.

Defence says trainees at the new facility will develop aviation competency and experience to make them fully mission-capable helicopter aircrew.

The Defence submission to the committee says the new helicopter aircrew training system – referred to as HATS – was approved by the government in August to replace the existing navy and army ab-initio helicopter training systems.

The cost includes 15 Airbus EC135 helicopters and three flight simulators.

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"The existing introductory helicopter aircrew training system employs only limited simulation that is rudimentary at best," the submission says.

"HATS will provide a new training system incorporating both live and synthetic training elements and will consolidate navy and army ab-initio helicopter training into a single joint helicopter aircrew training system at HMAS Albatross, NSW and Jervis Bay Airfield, ACT.

"The new HATS capability will prepare navy and army aircrew (pilots, aviation warfare officers and aircrew men-sensor operators) for conversion to advanced, new-generation, operational helicopter types including the MH-60R Seahawk, MRH-90 Army multi-role and Navy maritime support helicopter, S-70A-9 Blackhawk, CH-47D/F Chinook and EC655 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters."

The project will use off-the-shelf technologies,  and the new training system including simulators will be acquired from a single prime-capability contractor.

A peak workforce of about 380 is expected to be employed on construction activities as well as off-site functions for manufacturing and distribution of materials.

Defence says existing army and navy pilot training paths are not identical because of  the requirements of aircraft manning and helicopter types.

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