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June 21, 2012
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: LS Aaron Smits stands in front of the Bell 429 helicopter which now calls
Photo: ABIS Hayley Clarke
"THESE are indeed exciting times,"
CO 723SQN CMDR Matthew Shand
told assembled guests as Navy marked
the introduction of the Bell 429 helicop-
ter into ser vice at HMAS Albatross on
The contract with Raytheon
Australia provides three leased Bell 429
helicopters to provide enhanced skill
development for Navy pilots, aviation
warfare officers and aircrew.
"Since 1953, when 723SQN and
the RAN received its first helicopters,
the squadron has continuously oper-
ated rotary wing aircraft including,
Sycamores, Scouts, Wessex, Iroquois,
Kiowas, Squirrels and the A109,"
CMDR Shand said.
"During this process I believe 723
has evolved into a rotary wing training
centre of excellence and this tradition
continues with the latest incarnation,
the very contemporary 429."
The Bell helicopters will support
Navy's Retention and Motivation
Initiative, which Com mander Fleet Air
Arm CDRE Peter Laver said was a very
"It's ensured our junior aircrew
are able to develop their aviation
skills prior to operational conversion
to frontline aircraft types, specifical-
ly the MRH 90 Taipan and S-70B-2
Seahawk," CDRE Laver said.
"The introduction of the Bell 429
will expose crews to some of the most
advanced technology in rotary wing
LS Aaron Smits, of 723SQN, will
be trained as an aircrewman in the Bell
and intends to take full advantage of
the opportunities the helicopter will
"While I'll be doing the same util-
ity evolutions I've been doing in the
Squirrel, it's obviously going to be in a
bigger aircraft with a bigger winch and
the ability to pick up a lot more people,"
LS Smits said
"The Bell is going to advance my
capability and my training, which will
great for my career.
"The Bell is state-of-the-art, the
bees' knees with everything you'd
want, so it will be really exciting to be
in such a capable aircraft and go away
and do all the things we need to do in
Welcoming the introduction of the
Bell 429s, Defence Materiel Minister
Jason Clare said the pilots, aviation
warfare officers and aircrew would one
day be serving Australia at sea and on
"This is a modern aircraft that will
meet Navy's needs pending introduc-
tion of a new helicopter training system
for Navy and Army," Mr Clare said.
The Bell 429 began operations at
723SQN on April 23. It replaces the
Agusta A109 aircraft that was retired
from Navy service on March 10.
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