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Eurocopter to refit 26 Bundeswehr CH-53s for personnel recovery missions

18th June 2009 - 12:55 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Eurocopter Deutschland and the German Federal Agency for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) have signed a contract to refit one prototype followed by a further 25 of the German Army's CH-53GS/GE transport helicopters with the capability to perform personnel recovery missions. The contract is worth around Eur 24.9 million, with a large proportion going to German SMEs. The first refitted helicopter is scheduled for delivery in early 2010.

The contract was signed in the presence of the State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg), Rüdiger Wolf, and Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling. 'We thank the BWB, the BMVg and the Bundeswehr for the confidence they have once again placed in us with this assignment to convert the CH-53, the workhorse of the German Army, for yet another demanding role,' stated Bertling. 'This project will quickly meet the Bundeswehr’s need for a wider CH-53GS/GE deployment capability for national and international missions, especially for personnel recovery in various scenarios.'

The contract serves the purpose of endowing the CH-53GS/GE weapon system with the capability to locate personnel in various areas of deployment, fly to them tactically and pick them up. To this end, a mission-tactical workstation will be placed in the cargo bay which can be quickly installed and removed as role equipment.

The workstation is equipped with the controls for operating the additional sensor systems on the helicopter. These include a personnel locator system, a broadband radio unit, a forward-looking infrared system (FLIR) and connections to the internal and satellite communications systems. Information is provided on two workstation displays and a mobile display for the cockpit crew.

Eurocopter Deutschland has been selected as the contractor with overall responsibility for the project. The 26 helicopters covered by the contract will be modified and delivered by 2011. The retrofit work will be carried out by Eurocopter Deutschland at its Donauwörth plant or on Army bases. By taking this flexible approach, the support centre for Bundeswehr helicopters at Donauwörth is once again proving its performance capability.

Eurocopter’s support center at Donauwörth has also been contracted to retrofit a total of 82 medium-heavy CH-53G transport helicopters to ensure continued mission capability. This involves fixing airframe fatigue caused by wear and aging to increase the helicopters’ design life from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours. In addition, the retrofit will involve replacement of the entire electrical system, which is now about 35 years old.

The Eurocopter support centre for Bundeswehr helicopters has already completed various major orders for the CH-53G transport helicopter, working in cooperation with the BWB. One
was for measures to maintain airworthiness for instrument flight rules, another for the refit of 20 of these aircraft to give them a greater range, night low-flying capability and electronic self-protection for missions with the UN and rapid reaction forces. Last year a contract for the refit of 40 CH53G transport helicopters was signed, forming the core of a 'mid-life upgrade' for this helicopter type, to close existing gaps in operational capability and prepare the weapon system for missions it will perform jointly with the Tiger and the NH90.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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