Kaman Aerospace Group

Kaman Helicopters Reaffirms Maritime Helicopter Programme Safety and Effectiveness after ANAO Issues Audit Report

Kaman Helicopters Reaffirms Maritime Helicopter Programme Safety and Effectiveness after ANAO Issues Audit Report

Kaman Aerospace Group

Kaman Helicopters reaffirmed its strong support for its SH-2G Super Seasprite maritime multi-mission helicopter today in response to an audit report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

The ANAO report evaluated the Australia Department of Defence management and administration of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) Super Seasprite procurement programme, which was cancelled by the government in March 2008.

"Kaman Helicopters is fully and completely committed to the Super Seasprite," said Sal Bordonaro, president of Kaman Aerospace Corporation's helicopters division. "This outstanding helicopter has amassed a distinguished service record in the US navy and its exceptional performance continues today in the armed forces of Egypt, Poland and New Zealand.

"Furthermore Kaman stands most strongly behind its work on the RAN's programme. I want all our dedicated employees, customers and the rotorcraft community to understand that Kaman worked diligently, often at our own expense, to meet or exceed every contract requirement for this programme.

"We also went well beyond those requirements to develop advanced maritime helicopter capabilities for the RAN. The public has a right to the whole story, and Kaman Helicopters has a commensurate right to present the facts about our Australian programme."

Most of ANAO's findings and recommendations apply to the Australia Department of Defence and its procurement and contract management agencies. "Some of these matters affected Kaman's ability to meet contractual requirements, but they are beyond our purview," Bordonaro said. "While the ANAO report was very comprehensive in some areas, there are several facets of the programme, and areas of the helicopter's performance, that were not sufficiently addressed in the main report."

Much of the information that is crucial to an overall understanding of the programme, including Kaman's detailed response to the audit report, is included in annexes to the audit report. The entire audit report, including annexes, can be read at http://www.anao.gov.au/director/publications/auditreports/2008-2009.cfm.

The SH-2 is a path-breaking rotorcraft, the first to be embarked aboard US navy ships, completing almost 30 years of successful support to the fleet. The SH-2G(A) variant incorporates a host of system improvements to meet the RAN's stringent mission requirements for surface surveillance, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and boarding party operations.

As a result of the programme cancellation, these capabilities are now available to international users. Kaman independently sponsored qualification of the mission software system that provides the unique capability for this aircraft to be operated in all missions by a crew of two.

Aircraft flight controls have been validated for aircrew anthropometrics at the limits of the flight envelope for all loading conditions. Additionally, the air data computer, which provides vital airspeed and altitude information, was modified for improved reliability, and the automatic flight control system software was enhanced with additional error-checking capability to ensure safe operation of the SH-2G(A) flight control system under all conditions.

These company efforts produced a safe and highly capable maritime helicopter, characteristics acknowledged by the people who operated it.

Kaman built and delivered five SH-2G(NZ) helicopters to the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) in 2001, about the same time it worked on the RAN programme. The RNZN rotorcraft have the same basic capabilities as the Australian helicopters and have performed as required since delivered, having accumulated more than 7,500 safe and reliable flight hours.

"This year we delivered the second of ten upgraded SH-2G(E) aircraft to the Egyptian air force, with programme completion scheduled for 2011. These aircraft were qualified by the US navy and feature a flight control system that employs the Australia configuration flight control computer and automatic flight control system software," Bordonaro said.

"We have taken title to the 11 Super Seasprites originally produced for the RAN and completed successful testing for the Integrated Tactical Avionics System (ITAS) in these helicopters. We are proud of the Super Seasprite, proud of our programme and customer support and excited by the prospect of additional future sales to international navies."

Kaman Helicopters, a division of Kaman Aerospace Corporation, is a member of the Kaman Corporation (NASDAQ-GS: KAMN) group of companies, which conducts business in the aerospace and industrial distribution markets.