Add-on missions – the new trend

In the 80s and even the 90s the buzz word among Israeli aerospace companies was without any doubt “upgrade”.

In those years companies got contract after contract to upgrade Russian-made fixed-wing and rotorcraft and very old Western types.

Demand for this has dwindled in recent years to almost zero. Upgrades are now being performed in many cases by air forces inserting advanced boxes filled with new electronics.

Now it seems there is a new trend – using a relatively basic platform for missions that even its designers did not think of.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is offering a “very cost-effective” way to convert a basic helicopter to one fully capable of performing maritime missions.

The Israeli company is exploring cooperation opportunities with leading naval helicopter manufacturers and users for supplying its ‘”skimmer ” integrated naval helicopter package.

IAI says the tailor-made package is designed to provide optimal solutions for naval helicopter future mission requirements.

The skimmer package integrates advanced mission systems, sensors and avionics. These include radar, electronic warfare support measures, electro-optic payloads, datalinks, communication intelligence, sonar, sonics, mission management and monitoring systems and anti-ship missiles. 

The package can be tailored to meet specific mission requirements for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, coastguard protection, special operations and amphibious assault.

IAI says its broad helicopter engineering and systems integration experience will ensure successful installation and integration of  the new systems.

A company source said the package can be installed on new or used helicopters.

He added that helicopter pilots with specific experience performing naval helicopter missions were involved in the design and integration process, to ensure that the overall packages are fully customised to operational missions.

The Israeli navy is operating the Eurocopter AS565SA “Atalef” from the decks of its SAAR-5 missile corvettes.

And this is only one example – other such packages are now in the design stages. 

The companies behind them are not willing to disclose details, but do not be surprised if a transport helicopter launches anti-tank missiles, a light aircraft performs airborne early warning missions and a aerial tanker becomes a multi-mission platform.

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