Boeing’s Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has successfully met the conditions for initial operating capability (IOC).

The HATS training system will be used to prepare navy and army aircrew for transition into complex combat helicopters.

It is designed to replace, upgrade and support the Australian Navy and Army Helicopter Aircrew Training System at Nowra, New South Wales.

The system underwent successful testing of the individual aircrew training courses last year and has now achieved IOC.

“The HATS project overcame significant early delays to commence training on time, demonstrating what can be achieved.”

It will operate from 723 Squadron at HMAS Albatross in Nowra and will replace the Royal Australian Navy’s Squirrel and Army’s Kiowa training helicopters.

The AS350BA Squirrel was in service with the navy for 33 years as an embarked platform for the Adelaide-class frigates and as an aircrew training platform.

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The training system features Thales EC135 Reality H full-motion flight simulators, part task trainers and classroom instruction, as well as 15 Airbus EC135 T2+ helicopters.

HATS can train up to 144 helicopter pilots, aircrew, aviation warfare officers, aircrewmen and sensor operators per year. The acquisition cost of the helicopter training system is reported to be A$436m.

Australia Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said: “723 Squadron is staffed by navy and army aircrew, with additional instructors, support staff and aircraft maintenance provided by Boeing Defence Australia, who employ 108 contracted personnel in the Nowra area.

“The HATS project overcame significant early delays to commence training on time, demonstrating what can be achieved when defence and industry co-operate closely.”