Babcock has down selected the Bell 429 helicopter in its bid for the LAND 2097 Phase 4 Project to support the Australian Defence Force’s Special Operations helicopter capability.

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 Bell 429 was used as a training helicopter for the Royal Australian Navy between 2012 and 2019 (Photo: Commonwealth of Australia)

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.

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Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


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