Babcock Australasia’s Managing Director – Land, Graeme Nayler, said the Bell 429 Global Ranger was assessed to be the most suitable helicopter in response to the evolving needs of the ADF following a “comprehensive” evaluation of the platforms available in order to provide the most capable, low risk solution.
“The Bell 429 has a relatively new paramilitary design, with high levels of safety, role flexibility and performance that will meet the demands of Australian Special Forces,” he said.
“The Australian Defence Force requires absolute confidence in its Special Operations helicopters capability together with cost-effective customisation and ongoing sustainment,” he added. “Babcock’s selection of Bell and the Global Ranger also offers closer ties to US Defence industry, and an opportunity to improve interoperability with US and other contemporary military capabilities.”
The helicopters being offered will be customised to meet the specific requirements of Australian Special Forces, according to Babcock.
Bell’s Managing Director, Asia Pacific, David Sale, said Bell has a well-earned reputation for ruggedness and reliability, adding that the type “is operationally robust and favoured by pilots and crew throughout the world with more than 330 aircraft exceeding 330,000 hours of operation.”
These operators include the Royal Australian Navy, which operated three helicopters from crew training between 2012 and 2019, racking up more than 10,000 hours and training more than 100 aircrew.
“With an open architecture system and global support in place, the Bell 429 Global Ranger has the capacity to perform consistently and adapt rapidly to new technologies and evolving requirements.”
Business Development Director at Bell Helicopter Dan McQuestin told APDR that the Bell 429 advantages include the redundancy of a second engine along with the widest cabin doors for a helicopter in its weight class. The latter is an important consideration for Special Forces operations such as fast-roping.
The company has also completed assessment of the type with the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, with four helicopters being able to fit inside the airlifter per LAND 2097’s requirements.