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Israel inducts Ofer training helicopter

Israel has acquired the AW119Kx (pictured) to replace the OH-58 Kiowa in the helicopter pilot training role as its systems are more representative of the country's modern front-line types. (Israeli Air Force)

Israel has inducted the Leonardo AW119Kx Koala (named Ofer [Fawn] in national service) training helicopter, with the first flight at the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Flight Academy at Hatzerim Air Force Base.

The IAF announced the milestone on 26 May, marking the beginning of operations of the single-engined helicopter that was acquired in 2019 to replace the ageing Bell OH-58 Kiowas (named Saifan [Sword] in national service) it has fielded since 1970.

“Welcome ‘Ofer'! Today was the first flight of the Ofer (AW119Kx) helicopter – the new flight training helicopter of the flight school,” the IAF posted on its official X (formerly Twitter) account.

The IAF decided to procure a new training helicopter to better bridge the technological and performance gaps between the OH-58 and front-line operational types.

The AW119Kx selected by the IAF is the latest variant of the type that is equipped with a Garmin G1000HTM integrated flight-deck system, which features a synthetic vision system, moving map display, and the Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning System (HTAWS).

Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-37B engine, the baseline AW119 can accommodate up to eight people, has a top speed of 144 kt, a service ceiling of 18,700 ft, a maximum range of 972 km (with auxiliary tanks), and an endurance of 5 hours 34 minutes. It is also the only single-engined Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)-certified helicopter in production.

For more information on the AW119Kx, please seeLeonardo AW119 Koala.

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