Brazilian Army receives upgraded Fennec and Esquilo helicopters

23 December 2014 (Last Updated December 23rd, 2014 18:30)

The Brazilian Army Aviation has taken delivery of the first of four upgraded AS-550A2 Fennec and AS-350L1 Esquilo helicopters from Helibras.

Fennec helicopter

The Brazilian Army Aviation has taken delivery of the first of four upgraded AS-550A2 Fennec and AS-350L1 Esquilo helicopters from Helibras.

Helibras is under contract to modernise 36 Brazilian Fennec and Squirrel helicopters at its factory in Itajubá, Brazil.

Of the 36, three are scheduled to be rebuilt and modernised, while the remaining 33 choppers will be retrofitted.

Developed by the Helibras Engineering Center, the upgrade package received military certification from the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology and the Institute of Industrial Coordination and Development (DCTA / IFI).

The package includes a new glass cockpit, a two-axis autopilot, a new communication and navigation systems, a digital backup system, night vision goggle-compatible interior and outside lighting, as well as height-adjustable and energy-absorption seats.

In addition, it includes ballistic protection, new weapons and weapon-carrying arms, and higher steps.

"Helibras is under contract to modernise 36 Brazilian Fennec and Squirrel helicopters at its factory in Itajubá, Brazil."

Some of the new equipment fitted to the choppers was manufactured in Brazil or provided with local technical support by their manufacturer.

Helibras Fennec programme manager Wilmer Son said: "We work closely with the army to find Brazilian suppliers able to offer the latest technology for on-board systems, and also to provide support and maintenance with the same expertise and quality as in their home countries."

Some of the systems produced and / or with local support included the glass cockpit by AEL Systems, autopilot by Sagem Defense Aeronautics, digital intercom system by Becker Avionics Brazil, Nav-Com radio by Rockwell Collins and ballistic protection by BCA.


Image: A Brazilian Army AS-550A2 Fennec helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Helibras / Felipe Christ.