NATO HIP Helicopter Task Force Gets Momentum
On October 23rd, 2009 during the NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Bratislava, nine NATO Allies signed a declaration of intent to contribute to the Czech-lead initiative to develop a multi-national transport helicopter programme for NATO (see: HIP helicopter initiative) and facilitate in-theater deployment of these much-needed air assets. The nine countries are: the Czech republic, Albania, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and the UK.
This initiative complements other programmes aiming at improving helicopter readiness, such as the Franco-British Multinational Helicopter Initiative and the US-lead initiative to field a collaborative helicopter logistics capability for ISAF CH47s, CH53s and AH64s, at a time of increasing usage and consequent wear out: in a recent article, the Christian Science Monitor highlights the fact that “US helicopters are flying in Afghanistan and Iraq three to five times more than they would in peacetime”.
***Posted October 25th, 2009