Eurocopter signs contract to retrofit 26 CH53 Bundeswehr helicopters for personnel recovery missions

(PresseBox) ( Paris, )
On June 18th, Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH and the German Federal Agency for Defense Technology and Procurement (BWB) signed a contract at the Paris Air Show to retrofit one prototype followed by a further 25 of the German Army's CH53 GS/GE transport helicopters with the capability to perform personnel recovery missions. The contract is worth around 24.9 million euros, with a large part going to the medium-sized German equipment industry. The first retrofitted 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 CH53, 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 CH53 GS/GE deployment capability for national and international missions, and especially for personnel recovery in various scenarios."

The contract serves the purpose of endowing the CH53 GS/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 realized 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 locater 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 center for Bundeswehr helicopters at Donauwörth is once again proving its performance capability.

Eurocopter as the Bundeswehr's CH53G partner

Eurocopter's support center for Bundeswehr helicopters at Donauwörth has also been contracted to retrofit a total of 82 medium-heavy CH53G transport helicopters to ensure continued mission capability. This involves fixing airframe fatigue caused by use 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 center for Bundeswehr helicopters has already completed various major orders for the CH53G transport helicopter, working in cooperation with the BWB. One contract was for measures to maintain airworthiness for instrument flight rules, another for the retrofit 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 retrofit of 40 CH53G transport helicopters was signed, forming the core of a "midlife 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 CH53G

The CH53G has been in service for over 35 years and will continue for the foreseeable future to form the backbone of the German Army's missions abroad, where it is subjected to extreme conditions. Since entering service it has not only been the cornerstone of flexible troop and material transport by the German Army as part of its missions under Germany's NATO defense obligations, but has also been the central pillar for all out-of-area operations by the German Army as well as for other NATO forces in conflict zones from Kosovo to Kabul since the early 1990s. It has also seen considerable service combating national and international disasters such as forest fires and floods.
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