The U.S. Navy reported that its first student class began rotorcraft training in the Leonardo TH-73A “Thrasher” this month at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Florida. A military version of the AW119Kx, the TH-73A will replace the Navy’s current training fleet of Bell TH-57 Sea Rangers for basic and advanced IFR rotorcraft training. Navy instructors began training on the AW119 and then the TH-73A last year. 

While the TH-57 features analog cockpit displays, the glass cockpit in the TH-73A is more similar to the one used in the Navy’s T-6B Texan II fixed-wing turboprop, the aircraft in which all naval aviators begin their primary flight training, and the Navy’s operational rotorcraft fleet. Navy officers noted that keeping training in aircraft in digital cockpits will make for a more streamlined experience for students and speed training. 

The Navy spent five years revamping its primary helicopter training in preparation for the instruction of the TH-73A. Students must now complete substantial ground coursework, use virtual reality, and log extensive simulator time before stepping into the actual aircraft. Naval aviators spend approximately 38 weeks at Whiting before graduating onto flying fleet rotorcraft including the H-60, H-53, and AH-1. 


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