Kuwait Airbus H225 Helicopters deliveries begin and orders King Air 350ER Spyplanes
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior announced the arrival of two Airbus H225 long-range helicopters from France on February 20. Newly trained Kuwaiti pilots flew them on their five-day delivery journey.
The ministry’s undersecretary, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Al-Dousari, formally welcomed the aircraft during an official reception ceremony at Kuwait International Airport. The aircraft will serve with the Kuwait Police Rotary Wing, and are reportedly to be based at the Kuwait City Heliport, though the unit was previously based at Kuwait International Airport/Al Mubarak Air Base.
They join a pair of Airbus AS365N3+ Dauphin III medium helicopters, delivered last November, and one more AS365N3s, delivered back in 2005.
Another AS365N3 was written off in a hangar fire on May 24 this year.
The police also operate an ex-air force Puma and a Gazelle (which are expected to be withdrawn from use imminently, if, indeed, they have not already been retired), and two EC135T1s, delivered in 2001.
Specialist Aviation Services has supported the Kuwait Police Flying Wing with engineering services since 2006.
The newly delivered rotorcraft are expected to be augmented by two more H225s. The helicopters represent just one element in a wider plan to develop and enhance the provision of security services in Kuwait.
One of the H225s delivered in February was painted in gloss blue and was configured as a VVIP transport helicopter. The other was in a black and yellow colour scheme similar to that applied to the AS365N3+ helicopters. It was equipped for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and search and rescue (SAR) duties.
The Airbus H225, previously known as the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma, is also being acquired for the Kuwait Air Force (KAF) and the National Guard under the terms of a 2016 contract.
Twenty-four are due to be delivered to the KAF with six going to the National Guard. However, the deal, for 30 militarised H225Ms, has been referred to the country’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NAZHA) and State Audit Bureau (SAB) at the request of Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah.
Kuwait orders Beechcraft King Air 350ER Spyplanes
The US State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale (FMS) for four Beechcraft King Air 350ER intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft to Kuwait at an estimated cost of $259 million, writes Jon Lake.
Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft (formerly Raytheon) King Air 350, 350i and 350ER have become a popular basis for ISR and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) conversions.
These conversions range from aircraft with a single sensor – usually an electro optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret or a full-motion video (FMV) camera – to more sophisticated platforms with a range of sensors, encompassing communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT) or electronic surveillance measure (ESM) capabilities, maritime or overland search or surveillance radars, sideways-looking airborne radars (SLARs), light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and even laser designators.
ISR/ISTAR King Airs have been produced by Beechcraft (and Raytheon), but also by Boeing, L-3, Raytheon UK’s airborne solutions division, and by Sierra Nevada.
Once seen as a budget alternative to larger ISR aircraft, for smaller, more financially constrained operators, light ISR aircraft like the King Air have found a niche with larger, more prosperous air arms, complementing unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), and offering greater situational awareness on-scene.
The Kuwaiti King Airs will be based on the heavier-weight, longer-range model 350ER, with enhanced PT6A-67A engines. The aircraft will be equipped with both radar and EO/IR sensors, as well as comprehensive defensive aids.
One of the aircraft will be modified to allow it to undertake VIP or senior leadership transport, medical evacuation or command and control missions. This presumably means that on this aircraft, at least, ISR mission systems will be supplied in modular, roll-on/roll-off form.
The mission equipment specified for the aircraft includes a belly-mounted Selex Seaspray 7500E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, previously used on the US Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) King Air 350ER multi-role enforcement aircraft (MEA). The aircraft will also be fitted with an L3 WESCAM AN/AAQ-35 EO/IR turret – better known as the MX-15HDi.
The Kuwaiti King Airs will be fitted with secure communications, cryptographic, and precision navigation equipment, identification friend or foe (IFF) systems and will feature AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems (MWS) and AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser systems.