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Eurocopter showcases armed Fennec
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:19 am    Post subject: Eurocopter showcases armed Fennec Reply with quote

Aero India: Eurocopter showcases armed Fennec
February 12, 2011

Eurocopter exhibited its armed AS550 C3 Fennec publicly for the first time at Aero India in Bangalore from 9-13 February.

The rotorcraft is Eurocopter's contender for India's Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) programme, now in its closing stages, to replace elderly Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.

This is the second time the Fennec has competed; the Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) programme was cancelled in 2007 after the Fennec had been declared the winner.

With the AgustaWestland AW119 Koala pulling out of the competition in mid-2010, the Fennec is battling the Russian twin-engine Kamov Ka-226T for a lucrative197-helicopter contract (133 for the army and 64 for the air force).

Rainer Farid, Eurocopter's vice president of sales for South Asia, said he was confident a decision would be made during the second half of 2011, since the Indian Ministry of Defence was coming under increasing pressure to procure new helicopters.

In 2007 the need was urgent. Now it is critical,' claimed Philippe Kohn, Eurocopter's military operational marketing manager.

Kohn was mission commander for the Fennec trials in the first five months of 2010. He said that the key advantages of the single-engine Fennec lay in its simplicity.

It is simple to fly, simple to fight, and simple to maintain,' Kohn said.

During 80 hours of test flights, the Fennec attained a 100% availability rate under a team of three Eurocopter mechanics. In sharp contrast, a team of 30 was required to keep the Ka-226T operational. Smaller and lighter than its Russian competitor, the Fennec is the only helicopter ever to land on the 8,848m summit of Mount Everest.

The Indian requirement does not specify weapons fitment, but Eurocopter is proffering the Stand-Alone Weapon System (SAWS). This flexible weapon suite can incorporate a 20mm cannon pod, 70mm guided rockets or Ingwe missiles, allowing weapons to be rapidly changed according to mission requirements.

Farid said India was considered the number one market in terms of potential helicopter sales.

While the Fennec bid is a current priority, the NH90 will be participating in field evaluations in March/April in a competition for 16 ship-based Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH) to replace the Sea King.

Other aircraft that Eurocopter will be entering in upcoming Indian programmes include: the AS565 Naval Panther for 56 ship-based Naval Utility Helicopters; the EC725 for 14 special operations craft; and the AS565 Naval Panther for 16 Indian Coast Guard craft.

By Gordon Arthur, Bangalore
R22 2.6h/r wanting more, a hell of a lot more
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