KUALA LUMPUR: If only the upcoming Nuri upgrade will be as good as the one being done for the German Army’s CH-53 fleet (see story below). But one can always dream can one?
Eurocopter celebrates maiden flight of CH-53GA right on schedule
The CH-53GA medium-lift military transport helicopter successfully completed its maiden flight over the Bavarian town of Donauw�rth today before an admiring crowd of approximately 150 guests. Eurocopter test pilot Rene Nater and flight engineer Antoine Van Gent were at the controls. This first flight came just three years after the contract was awarded, and represents a major milestone for the CH-53GA program, as well as for Eurocopter Germany’s support centre for the German Army helicopters. Thanks to the new upgrades, the helicopter’s service life has been extended to 2030. Training flights are slated for early 2011, with the first deliveries of the retrofitted helicopters later in the same year. The German Armed Forces will then be able to deploy the CH-53GA with its state-of-the-art equipment for international missions (e.g. Afghanistan).
As Senior Vice-President Ralf Barnscheidt, responsible for German military contracts at Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH, points out: “Over the past 30 years, the Eurocopter support centre for German Army helicopters has completed many important upgrades on the CH-53G transport helicopter, working in cooperation with the Bundesamt f�r Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung (Federal Agency for Defense Technology and Procurement). I am extremely pleased to see the CH53-GA flying today, as it further demonstrates the successful cooperation we enjoy with the German Armed Forces that has enabled us to complete the program on time and within budget.”
Functional Requirements � Optimized Implementation
The CH-53G is being retrofitted so that the helicopter can be deployed in a wide range of national and international missions. The following major functional requirements for the CH-53GA have been defined and embodied:
Improved display and flight control systems via state-of-the-art digital avionics
Advanced accurate navigation system and improved flight capabilities in line with international IFR flight regulations
Integration of a new automatic flight control systemAFCS/4-axis-autopilot) with automatic hovering
Installation of auxiliary fuel tanks in the cabin to increase the range to 1,200 km
Upgrade of communication equipment for joint missions with Tiger and NH90 helicopters
Integration of a modular mission equipment package including FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared), satellite communication system (SatCom) and a cutting-edge electronic warfare system (EWS) for self-defense and identification of threats
Production work on the CH-53GA is scheduled to start at the Donauw�rth plant in 2011 and continue through 2013. The first helicopters will be made available to the German Army before the end of 2011.
The CH-53G in Action � Domestic and International Missions
The CH-53G has been in service for over 35 years, and in the years to come it will continue to form the backbone of the German Army’s deployments in foreign missions. The helicopter is used to harsh conditions. Since entering service it has been the cornerstone of the German Army’s versatile troop and equipment transport units as part of the country’s NATO obligations, and has also been an important platform for operations in foreign missions in cooperation with other NATO forces. The helicopter has served in conflicts from Kosovo to Kabul since the early 1990s. In addition, it has been deployed in numerous missions to provide aid during national and international catastrophes such as forest fires and floods. The CH53GA will meet the German Army’s need to expand the mission capabilities of its medium-lift transport helicopters for domestic missions and deployment abroad.
Working Closely with the German Army
Eurocopter’s support center for German Army helicopters at Donauw�rth is under contract to retrofit a total of 40 medium-lift CH-53G transport helicopters to CH-53GA configuration. The work includes the repair of airframe fatigue due to extensive use and ageing in order to extend the helicopters’ design life from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours. The entire electrical system, which is nearly 35 years old, will also be replaced. The entire support center for German Army helicopters is involved in the development work on the CH-53GA. The center has experienced substantial growth over the last twenty years; the work force of 69 employees in 1991 has increased to 530 employees today, and still shows an upward trend.
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It’s worth it to upgrade and SLEP the CH_53s as heavylift helicopters are very expensive and you only have two choices either the Chinook or Mil-26. However mid size helis like the Nuri? When you add all new avionics, life extension of the airframe and other measures, you end up spending a LOT of money. Sure you get a better helicopter, but with the same expensive maintenance (man hours and dollars) and other limitations.
Just get a new one.
Marhalim, has a decision been made to upgrade the Nuri?
Marhalim: I am told that it has been included in the RMK10 plans….but how much or the scope of the programme remained sketchy but based on previous interviews I dont think it will be as extensive as the German Army’ s one….
Talking about the RMK-10, what’s the latest update for what will be included in the RMK-10 for our defensse scene. Recently, I heard that our govt has put the main priority for procuring at least 3 MPSS no later than 2015.
Marhalim: Details remained sketchy as money remained scarce……
For my suggestion RMAF should get new helis like S-92 or AW-101 and AEWC system, RMN must has Muti-role support ship at least 1 o 2 vessel and The army must replaced its old armourd vehicle with 6×6 or 8×8 with local build with international support.
Fadiman, the reason why a lot of countries didn’t go for the S-92 is because it has yet to be ordered in large numbers. The Merlin would be ideal as it has more range, more internal space and unlike the Cougar has a rear ramp, making it easier to offload/load troops and stuff. The problem is its price tag, partly due to the 3rd engine. As Eurocopter already has an MRO facility here and is opening a simulator centre here, it makes much more sense to go for the Cougar.
Like almost everything else, the Condor replacement has been put on hold. Whatever is eventually ordered, whether the Rosmak or Piranha, lets hope it’s fitted with an OWS and has better armour than the Condor and Sibmas.
Yes I agreed with Azlan that we should just continue with the decision to procure the Cougar since Eurocopter has already setup their MRO facility here in Malaysia.
And yes again, many ‘shining’ project that our local defense scene fans are talking about still remain cloudy although our nation economy have slightly recover from the economic crisis last year.
Let’s not hope for something that have the ‘wow’ factor will be procure in the next 2-3 years. Personally, I doubt if the ultimate goal in our Vision2020 for the defense scene will be archive. They should revise the vision back. (please note the word Personally)
A comprehensive upgrade based on the Carson rotor blades and glass cockpit was mooted but politely declined about 3 years ago because it would interfere with the replacement programme. This is an FAA certified upgrade and is being implemented on VH-1 S-61s.
Marhalim: It could be the basis for the next Nuri upgrade, depnding on how much funds is allocated….
As APMM already gonna get 3 AW139 soon, would the army/airforce consider using the same? I do not know whether there will be any synergy but as the army also already using the A109, the induction “MAY” not be a huge transition period/learning curve. But as i can remember, AW139 only have capacity for 15 while the Nuri about 28.
Marhalim: There are several proposals for the use of the AW139 but shot down as the Cougar procurement takes precedent as well as the Nuri upgrade….
Another problem in a few years will be funding a replacement for the Aloutte 111s which at present are used for basic rotary training at FTC 2 as well as mercy flights, liasion and light transport. We should cancel the A400M order and divert the funds to a Nuri replacement or upgrade.
Sir, i wonder when the Govmnt approved budget for ATM to get the Cougar, at the RMAF should get 2 sqns and The Army Air Corp get 1 sqns, as since the RMAF want to replaced it Mig from the inventory, can i suggest the Gripen NG, The Swidish SAAB are offering with Erieye and transfer technology (Deferent or customized configuration than other nation), should the Govmnt and ATM joint venture with SAAB to setup Fighter Replacement Programme in our country. RMAF BAe HAWK and Hornet are near the end of life-span, my suggestion is coz of easy tech-support/ maintanance, logistic and cost.
Fadiman, the Hornets and Hawks are not ”near the end of life-span”. In addition to still having many hours left, the Hornets are supported by an FMS contract, which makes supporting them easier, compared to the MKMs. As for the Hawks, 2 contracts were recently signed with BAE Systems and Rolls Royce for spares and support.
Our bugs are very valuable. Low..low frame hours.
They also have the highest availability of any of our aircraft. Clue…it’s the ONLY airframe that we have under FMS! We don’t like FMS though…not much opportunity for big commissions.
Carson upgrades (composite rotors, upgraded transmissions, upgraded engines, avionics) costs around USD3mil per aircraft. UK has the upgrades on their SeaKings deployed in Afghan, not to mention the Marine One US Presidental Heli. It would be a cost effective stopgap until funds available for the nuri replacement.
Now sikorsky is marketing S-61T….will have increased horsepower, upgraded rotor blades, a more modern cockpit and a fully refurbished overall structure
For afghanistan BTW….
If the carson upgrade is at USD 3 million a piece? It will be a steal if even we can keep the Nuri’s flying for another 5-10 year, AS we build up the fleet replacement with Cougars or something else at slower rate of say 2-3 a/c in a year.
Read up on the S-61T programme. It is basically a Sikorsky and Carson programme to rebuilt the S-61 to as new condition. With the programme you will get a “new” S-61 with all the latest tech, but for USD 8Million per aircraft, it costs nearly the same as a new Mil-171. Well if TUDM goes down this route, at least they will get a “new” reliable heli that they are familiar with. If a modern nation like germany choose to keep their old CH-53, why not we keep our old nuri’s?
well if they say that no need local participation, the cost will be around USD8 million. But if they insist on local participation price could double that and they still make a case saying its cheaper than a brand new heli IMHO
Marhalim: Any upgrade on the Nuri mostly probably involved Airod as they are the ones promoting the Carlson upgrades….