Reborn as the H215, the former Super Puma medium-twin helicopter is being offered by Airbus Helicopters to Chile and other potential operators.
Source: IHS/Charles Forrester
Officials from the Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aérea de Chile: FACh) were recently shown the relaunched Airbus Helicopters H215 transport and utility platform ahead of an anticipated decision to recapitalise its ageing rotary-winged support fleet.
An undisclosed number of FACh representatives were invited to attend a demonstration of the medium-twin H215 that had been laid on in March for the US Army in Huntsville, Alabama, officials told reporters ahead of the HAI HELI-EXPO event in Kentucky earlier in March.
Airbus Helicopters had hoped to showcase the aircraft, a relaunched version of the AS332 C1e/L1e Super Puma, at the FIDAE Airshow running in Santiago from 27 March to 3 April, but was unable to do so owing to the timing of demonstration commitments in the United States. It was for this reason that the FACh was invited to attend one of these US demonstrations instead.
The FACh has released a tender for six to eight helicopters to reinforce its existing fleet of mainly Bell 412s and UH-1Hs. Airbus Helicopters is one of four companies that have so far declared their intention to compete, with the others being AgustaWestland with its AW149, Rosoboronexport with its Mil Mi-171 'Hip', and Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) with its Surion. The chosen platform will be used to increase battlefield lift and disaster relief capabilities, with the potential for more helicopters to be bought at a later date.
Though an air force tender, the Chilean Army already operates the SA330 Puma helicopter, which would lead to synergies with the H215 in terms of support, training, and interoperability. (IHS/Gareth Jennings)
It is worth noting that while a FACh tender, the Chilean Army already operates a range of Airbus Helicopters platforms, including the SA330L Puma and AS532AL/ALe Cougar (a military-specific version of the Super Puma, which will be displayed at FIDAE 2016), and the navy too fields the AS332 Super Puma (under Airbus Helicopters' new nomenclature, the latest 'H' designation is only assigned to those platforms delivered after the new format was introduced in March 2015).