Eurocopter formally hands over first upgraded CH-53GA
Eurocopter’s delivery of the first production modernized CH-53GA transport helicopter to the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) was celebrated during a ceremony today at the ILA Berlin Air Show.
The Eurocopter Military Support Center Germany currently is performing the comprehensive upgrade of 40 Bundeswehr CH-53G aircraft to the CH-53GA specification for both national and international deployment – providing the German armed forces with a modern fleet of these helicopters equipped for an operational lifetime lasting beyond 2030.
Handover of first production helicopter for field tests was made by Helmut Richter, representing the Federal Office of Defense Administration, to Army Aviation Commander Brigadier Reinhard Wolski. The Air Force Procurement Commander, Brigadier Herrmann Muntz, also attended the ceremony.
Eurocopter is upgrading the 40 helicopters during a three-year period. In addition to this milestone helicopter’s handover today, three others in an initial configuration have been used for training flights since July 2012.
The CH-53GA is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and communications systems, which also are approved for use alongside the Tiger support helicopter and NH90 transport helicopter.
Additionally, pilots will now be able to make use of a four-axis autopilot with auto-hover automatic flight control system, as well as an up-to-date electronic warfare system for threat recognition and electronic self-protection. In another enhancement, navigational accuracy is brought up to international instrument flight rules (IFR) standards, with the upgrade extending to display and control functions – which are now contained in a glass cockpit with five multi-function displays.
The scope of CH-53GA upgrades also covers Eurocopter’s delivery of modular, mission-specific equipment packages installable in line with mission requirements. These include an infrared observation system in the form of a forward looking infrared (FLIR) system, a satellite communications package, along with auxiliary fuel tanks that extend the aircraft’s range up to 1,200 km. As part of the refit, weaknesses in the helicopter airframe arising either from age or use also are being addressed and the wiring renewed.