The UAE plan to field three AgustaWestland AW609 light tiltrotor aircraft for search-and-rescue (SAR) and VIP duties appears to have stalled, with the manufacturer telling Jane's that it has "no additional details" to provide on the expected procurement.
The UAE and Finmeccanica signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for three tiltrotors (with options for three more) at the Dubai Airshow in November 2015, saying at the time that a contract would follow shortly after and deliveries would begin in 2019. However, no announcements pertaining to a contract were made, and when asked about the status of the deal Leonardo said on 31 May that "No additional details on the programme can be provided as of today".
As reported at the time of the MOU, the aircraft were to be delivered to the UAE's Joint Aviation Command (JAC) for SAR duties by the National Search and Rescue Centre (NSRC) in Abu Dhabi, as well as for VIP duties. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Major General Abdullah Al Sayed Al Hashemi of the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (AF & AD) said that the AW609s would enable SAR operations over a greater distance and speed than it could with conventional helicopters, while still enabling for casualties to be picked up from areas where fixed-wing aircraft would not be able to land or take off.
Powered by two 1,445-kW (1,938-hp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67A turboshaft engines, one mounted on each wingtip to drive the 7.92-m-long rotor blades, the AW609 has a flight crew of two and can carry a maximum of nine passengers in the standard aircraft configuration. The aircraft has a 275 kt top speed, a range of 750 n miles (1,389 km), a service ceiling of 25,000 ft (with a pressurised cabin), and an estimated endurance of three hours.
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