Saturday, August 18, 2018
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Tunisian military looking for new helicopters

Huey helicopters.Tunisia’s defence ministry is looking for over a dozen new civil helicopters.

According to African Intelligence, the Tunisian defence ministry has issued a restricted tender for the supply of 18 intermediate-sized civil helicopters.

AgustaWestland/Leonardo Helicopters and Airbus are apparently among the bidders, along with Bell Helicopter.

Tunisia has received helicopters from the United States before, notably 12 Sikorsky Black Hawks, fitted with weapons packages, and 24 ex-US Army OH-58D Kiowa Warriors. The first six of the latter were handed over in a ceremony in the United States in February 2017.

In 2017 Tunisia also received 12 Maule MX-7 light aircraft from the United States for border surveillance.

On 3 August 2017 the Tunisian Air Force received the first four of the initial batch of eight Black Hawks ordered in 2015.

During the handover ceremony, US Ambassador to Tunisia Daniel Rubenstein said the Black Hawk “is a sophisticated tool which enables the Tunisian Air Force to succeed in its counter-terrorism operations. With these aircraft the Air Force will move soldiers, conduct air assaults and detect terrorist targets, and be there to evacuate injured soldiers and save lives. These aircraft have increased the Tunisian Air Force’s capability to defend the Tunisian nation, secure its borders, and integrate its air and ground forces, all of which makes Tunisians safer.”

“With the delivery of these aircraft, skilled Tunisian aviators, ground crews, and maintenance teams have worked side by side with American counterparts to ensure that Tunisia can use these tools to their fullest.”

The Tunisian military’s rotary wing fleet includes two dozen Bell 205/UH-1 helicopters, half a dozen AS350B Ecureils, several Alouette IIIs, a dozen Sea Kings, and a single Puma.