The spanish army: fleet modernisation

At the end of December 2007, as part of the programme to modernise its helicopter fleet, the Spanish army awarded a contract for the upgrading of its 17 Chinook CH-47 Deltas.


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The agreement signed with the Spanish Army was initially for the upgrading of six Cougars, but it has since been extended to cover the entire fleet of twelve aircraft.

The project, valued at 20 million euros, was launched in January 2008 and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2010. A prototype is to be built in the course of 2008 and will undergo operational assessment with a view to obtaining military certification before the end of the year. Under the terms of the contract, eight aircraft are to be retrofitted each year from 2009 onwards. The contract awarded to the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency NAMSA was subsequently subcontracted to the consortium of which Indra and Eurocopter Spain are members (UTE).
“The work involves the retrofitting of an Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) system, an integrated self-protection system to counter multiple threats. Its radar, laser and missile-detection sensors are capable of detecting threats and identifying the source of enemy fire. As well as identifying the type of threat and evaluating the danger that it represents, the system triggers the most appropriate sequence of countermeasures,” explains programme manager Valentín Sosa. The prototype is currently being built at the Spanish airbase of Colmenar Viejo where the Chinooks are stationed, in collaboration with Indra and the army. This is the second project awarded to UTE by the Spanish army, following the contract for retrofitting the same system in its fleet of Cougars. The Cougar prototype was completed in 2007 and has already passed the flight tests required for its certification. The initial contract was for the modernisation of six Cougars, but it has since been extended to cover the entire fleet of twelve aircraft.


_AUTHOR: ELIANA GUELFI


The upgrading process

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The first stage in upgrading a helicopter is to develop and build a prototype that will be used for testing and integrating the new systems. The prototype then serves as the basis for obtaining airworthiness certification and testing the system under real-life operating conditions. The necessary documentation is submitted to the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology INTA, the official body responsible for approving the systems’ functionality and their installation on board the helicopter. This can be a very long process, owing to the exhaustive tests conducted on the aircraft, including ground tests and flight tests to verify the correct functioning of the integrated systems.