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Training Helicopters: Steel Birds Teach to Soar

Military Helicopters – Part 8

Welcome to the next chapter of our Military Helicopters series. Having extensively covered the dynamic realms of Attack, Transport, Search and Rescue, Naval Helicopters, and delving deeper into Utility Helicopters in two previous parts, we now turn to the vital domain of Training Helicopters in our eighth segment. 
Training helicopters play a vital role in pilot education, offering a safe and controlled environment for both novice and advanced training. Specifically designed for this purpose, these aircraft contribute significantly to the development of helicopter pilots’ skills and expertise.
Such helicopters are essential in preparing new military pilots for the diverse challenges of helicopter operations. Specifically designed and equipped for this purpose, they facilitate the learning process, enabling aspiring aviators to develop the skills required for their assigned missions. 
Here are key aspects of military training helicopters:
Training helicopters play a vital role in pilot education, offering a safe and controlled environment for both novice and advanced training. Specifically designed for this purpose, these aircraft contribute significantly to the development of helicopter pilots’ skills and expertise.
Such helicopters are essential in preparing new military pilots for the diverse challenges of helicopter operations. Specifically designed and equipped for this purpose, they facilitate the learning process, enabling aspiring aviators to develop the skills required for their assigned missions. 
Here are key aspects of military training helicopters:
Dual Controls: Training helicopters typically have dual controls, enabling both the instructor and the student pilot to manipulate the aircraft’s flight controls. This facilitates hands-on instruction and allows the instructor to take control if needed.
Basic Flight Manoeuvres: Military training helicopters are used to teach basic flight manoeuvres, such as takeoffs, landings, climbs, descents, turns, and auto rotations. Students learn to handle the aircraft in various conditions and scenarios.
Instrument Training: Aspiring military pilots undergo instrument training to operate helicopters in adverse weather conditions and low-visibility situations. This training is important for missions that may require flying in challenging environments.
Tactical Training: Military helicopter training includes tactical elements, teaching students how to operate in combat scenarios. This involves low-level flight, evasive manoeuvres, and understanding the principles of terrain masking to avoid detection by adversaries.
Night Vision Goggle (NVG) Training: Training helicopters are often equipped for and used in night vision goggle training. Pilots learn to operate with NVGs to enhance visibility during low-light conditions.
Advanced Systems Training: Training helicopters may be equipped with advanced avionic systems and sensors to familiarise pilots with the technology they will encounter in operational helicopters. This includes navigation systems, communication equipment, and mission-specific tools.
Emergency Procedures: Military helicopter training emphasises emergency procedures, including engine failures, hydraulic system malfunctions, and other critical scenarios. Pilots are trained to react swiftly and effectively to ensure the safety of the aircraft and the crew.
Mission-Specific Training: Depending on the military branch and the intended operational role of the helicopter pilots, training may include mission-specific elements such as anti-submarine warfare, troop transport, reconnaissance, or medical evacuation.
Examples of military training helicopters include:
Flight School TH-67
The TH-67 Creek is a light utility helicopter initially developed from the Bell 206 Jet Ranger by the U.S. Army as a training aircraft. It is utilised by the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School as a rotary wing training aircraft, demonstrating flying characteristics and test procedures. The TH-67 is representative of early tilt-rotor helicopter designs.
The TH-67 Creek is a two-bladed, single-engine helicopter known for its versatility and reliability.
The Bell TH-67 Creek boasts key features like a fully articulated rotor system, skid-type landing gear for simplicity, and a spacious cabin accommodating both instructor and trainee. This helicopter is instrumental in teaching basic and advanced flying skills, preparing military pilots for intricate rotorcraft.
Retired by the U.S. Army in Feb 2021, the TH-67 “Creek,” comprised a fleet of 181 aircraft utilised from 1993 to 2020. Accumulating over 1.9 million hours, it trained 25,000 students. Gradually succeeded by the UH-72A Lakota, this transition faced controversy. The Army defended it, emphasising benefits like simulator integration, prolonged training on the same airframe, and enhanced preparation for sophisticated twins like the UH-60 Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache, and CH-47 Chinook. 
Agile Defender UH-72
The UH-72 Lakota is a light utility helicopter operated primarily by the U.S. Army.  It is built by the Airbus Helicopter division of Airbus North America and is a military version of the commercial EC145. 
The UH-72 boasts a conventional airframe with a streamlined fuselage, lightweight materials, and a four-bladed, articulated rotor system for enhanced stability and manoeuvrability. Powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 engines, it ensures reliability across various missions.
Its spacious cabin accommodates up to nine passengers, adaptable for troop transport or medical evacuation. Modern avionics, including a glass cockpit with digital displays, communication radios, and navigation systems, support navigation and mission-specific tasks. 
Depending on the mission, the UH-72 can be equipped with various mission-specific gear.
H135: Safety with Sophistication
The three-tonne-class H135 rotorcraft is the perfect platform for military pilot training from evolving aviators’ skills to preparing them for complex mission scenarios.
The H135, a sophisticated twin-engine helicopter, excels in versatile training with advanced avionics. With over 1,400 helicopters globally and six million flight hours, it prioritises safety and ease of maintenance.
Meeting modern military rotorcraft demands, it ensures training simplicity, reliability, and safety with low operating costs. Its quick role-change capability and versatile cabin support training in various mission configurations.
Featuring Airbus-developed Helionix avionics, it integrates an advanced cockpit for full Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) capabilities, facilitating an easy transition for student pilots to larger helicopters.
Cost-efficient training includes downloadable programmes for IFR flight, tactical manoeuvres, night vision goggles, and crew resource management on the helicopter, requiring only a type-specific familiarisation course for pilots transitioning to more advanced rotorcraft. 
The H135 is quiet, with certified sound levels well below the International Civil Aviation Organization limit offering added value for recurrent training operations and extended-duration missions.
With Helionix avionics, it ensures superior safety with flight protection and situational awareness. Its open architecture and modular design allow seamless integration of additional mission requirements.
Helionix is available on Airbus’ H145, H175, and H160 rotorcraft, making the H135 an ideal trainer. Its plug-and-play design facilitates quick adaptations for various missions, including passenger transportation, disaster relief, and search and rescue.
TH-73A: Precision Versatility
The TH-73A, part of the US Navy’s Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS), is a military variant of the Leonardo AW119T, introduced in August 2021. Designed for rotary and tilt-rotor pilot training, it excels with modern avionics, enhanced night vision capabilities, and superior performance, ensuring versatility and precise handling.
With a spacious cabin accommodating two pilots and up to four passengers, including a centrally located observer seat, it maximises learning opportunities. Configurable for various roles, it efficiently fulfils missions with features like a rescue hoist and cargo hook.
High cruise speed and extended range optimise training efficiency, facilitating a smooth transition to other helicopter types. The TH-73A, with touchdown autorotation capability and high power margins, provides a forgiving environment for new pilots. 
Expected to serve for around 30 years, it replaces the ageing  TH-57Bs and TH-57Cs, completing the sundown process by fiscal year 2025.
Jupiter Tech Mastery 
The Airbus Helicopters Jupiter HT Mk.1 (H145) provides advanced rotary wing flying training UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
Like the Juno HT Mk.1 (H135), the Jupiter HT Mk.1 has introduced digital technology to the helicopter training programme.  The Juno and Jupiter cockpits include the latest in Airbus Helicopters avionics which delivers enhanced safety and improved situational awareness. 
The type serves with 202 Squadron at RAF Valley which delivers maritime, mountain and search and rescue training to helicopter aircrew.
Versatile Ace Bell 505 
The Bell 505, a versatile short light single helicopter, operates globally with over 400 units in service since its 2017 debut. Renowned for diverse missions, it’s a preferred training aircraft for both commercial and military applications.
Equipped with advanced technology like the Garmin G1000NXi glass cockpit and a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system, the Bell 505 enhances pilot capabilities. Its affordability and technical prowess make it a key choice for modernising military fleets. The Republic of Korea recently selected it as their new military helicopter trainer, anticipating up to 40 helicopters by 2025.
Already utilised by the Indonesian Navy, Jamaica Defence Force, Armed Forces of Montenegro, and Japan Coast Guard, the Bell 505 continues to strengthen its reputation as a reliable military trainer.
Cabri G2’s Quiet Power
Guimbal Cabri G2 is a light, two-seat training helicopter designed and manufactured by Hélicoptères Guimbal, a French helicopter manufacturer. It is engineered for training purposes and is often used in flight training schools, private training organisations, and by military and civilian operators.
It features tandem seating, meaning the seats are arranged one behind the other. This seating arrangement allows for better visibility for both the instructor and the trainee. The helicopter is constructed primarily from composite materials, which contribute to its lightweight design and performance.
Instead of a traditional tail rotor, the Cabri G2 incorporates a fenestron tail rotor. This design enhances safety by protecting the tail rotor from ground obstacles and reduces noise. The helicopter is equipped with a modern glass cockpit, providing advanced avionics and instrumentation for the pilot. This includes digital displays, communication systems, and navigation equipment.
Single-engine Marvel Squirrel
The Airbus H125 Squirrel HT.1, a single-engine light training helicopter, is employed by the RAF for pilot training. 
Operated by the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury, it serves as a vital step for pilots transitioning from fixed-wing to helicopter flying. 
The HT2 variant, stationed at Middle Wallop, trains Army Air Corps pilots with minor instrumentation differences and cockpit lighting compatible with night-vision goggles. 
Both versions are powered by an Arriel gas-turbine engine. The Squirrel, introduced in April 2020 at RAF Shawbury, replaces the Gazelle and is a fundamental trainer for No 660 Squadron. 
The HT1 version, also at RAF Shawbury, trains qualified helicopter aircrew to become instructors, emphasising a spacious cabin and cockpit windows. 
Mi-28UB Trains & Strikes
The Mi-28UB, a dual-control variant of the Mi-28 Havoc, is a combat training helicopter designed by Mil Moscow for the Russian Ministry of Defence and export customers. 
Based on the Mi-28NE Night Hunter, it performs both training and attack missions, featuring a pod and boom design, a five-bladed main rotor, and twin engines.
The helicopter, equipped with non-retractable tricycle landing gear, ensures crew protection during low-altitude falls. With dimensions of 17.01 m length, 4.88 m wingspan (excluding rotor), and 3.82 m height, it has an empty weight of 8,590 kg and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 11,500 kg.
Multi-role Master NH90
While the NH90 is a versatile helicopter used in various roles, it has been integrated into training programmes for both the German Army and the German Navy. It is a multi-role helicopter designed to meet the requirements of both naval and land-based operations. It can be configured for various missions such as troop transport, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and anti-submarine warfare.
In the context of military training, the NH90 can be used for training pilots and aircrew in a realistic environment. Training configurations may include simulated combat scenarios, emergency procedures, and mission-specific exercises. 
The helicopter’s capabilities make it suitable for a wide range of training purposes, contributing to the development of skills among military personnel.
Utility Champion Ansat-U
The Ansat-U is a contemporary light utility helicopter utilised for both training and operational purposes in Russia. Developed as a trainer variant by Kazan Helicopters for the Russian Air Force, it serves the training needs of cadets and pilots, offering early-stage pilot training and flight instructor staff retraining.
Featuring a classical single main rotor and tail rotor, the Ansat-U incorporates two turboshaft engines and redundant flight control systems, ensuring a high level of safety for training missions. The helicopter’s distinctive design includes a hingeless fibreglass rotor head with elastic springs, torsion bars, and a quadruple redundancy digital fly-by-wire control system. 
Equipped with a wheeled undercarriage for ease in Air Force personnel training, the Ansat-U accommodates a dual-control system and seating for six students.
Powered by two PW207K turboshaft engines, each producing continuous power of 561shp and a maximum power of 630shp, the Ansat-U enables pilots to practice various engine failure scenarios. With a wheeled landing gear, it achieves a maximum altitude of 5,700m, a hover ceiling of 3,300m, a maximum climb rate of 21.5m/sec, and a payload capacity of 1,300kg. 
Apache’s Dual Role
While these helicopters are primarily used for operational roles, they are also used in training capacities for more advanced stages.
The Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter is primarily designed and employed as an attack helicopter rather than a training platform. It is a heavily armed helicopter used by various military forces around the world for close air support, anti-tank warfare, and reconnaissance missions.
Pilot training for the AH-64 Apache typically involves specialised training programmes that focus on the helicopter’s combat capabilities, weapon systems, and tactical use. Training may include simulated exercises, flight manoeuvres, and live-fire exercises to prepare pilots for the complex and demanding nature of operating an attack helicopter in combat situations.
Military forces employ specialised trainer helicopters and flight simulators during the initial stages of rotary-wing pilot training, preparing pilots for the transition to advanced and specialised helicopters such as the Apache. These training helicopters are intentionally designed to be less complex, incorporating features that facilitate the instruction of fundamental flying skills to new pilots.
While the AH-64 Apache itself is not a primary platform for basic pilot training, it plays a crucial role in advanced training programmes for pilots specialising in attack helicopter operations. Initial rotary-wing pilot training is typically conducted on other helicopter types before pilots move on to more advanced and mission-specific platforms like the Apache.
Stealthy Powerhouse H125M
The AS555 Fennec, now designated H125M, serves as an advanced helicopter training platform for the French Air Force.
Adapted for various roles, including training, tactical transport, ISTAR, and armed reconnaissance or light attack tasks, the H125M excels in power, simplicity, firing stability, and stealthiness. With the ability to adopt different configurations and equip diverse weapon systems, it provides versatility for demanding missions.
As a single-engine helicopter, the H125M aligns with many training programmes, offering pilots valuable experience in managing a single-engine aircraft. Renowned for high performance, it operates in diverse conditions and facilitates advanced flight training manoeuvres.
Equipped with modern avionic systems, the H125M ensures pilots are trained on the latest technology and navigation systems. Configurable with dual controls, it is well-suited for instructional purposes.
Airbus helicopters, including the H125M, are recognized for their reliability, a critical factor in flight training where safety is paramount. The H125M’s reduced radar signature, achieved through composite materials and infrared-reflective paint, allows for discreet battlefield operations.
Built on the excellent handling of Airbus’ single-engine Ecureuil family, the H125M is fully operational in high and hot environments, holding the world altitude record with a landing on Mount Everest at 8,848 metres.
Elevating Future Aviators
Training helicopters play an essential role in shaping the skills and expertise of future aviators, adding a crucial layer to our comprehensive understanding of military helicopter operations. These all-encompassing initiatives are purposefully crafted to empower military aviators with a comprehensive skill set, effectively preparing them for the multifaceted challenges that define their impending roles.
By weaving together theoretical knowledge, simulated scenarios, and hands-on flight experiences, training helicopters play a pivotal role in cultivating versatile and adept aviators.  This comprehensive approach ensures that aspiring pilots are not only well-prepared but also instilled with the resilience needed to navigate the intricate demands of their future missions in military aviation.
In summary, training helicopters stand as indispensable elements within extensive helicopter training programmes, seamlessly integrating ground school, simulator sessions, and live flight exercises.
Reference Text/Pic: 

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