The Israeli air force is happy with the performance of a new upgrade for its Sikorsky CH-53 "Yasur" assault helicopters, according to a senior official from the unit tasked with testing a prototype example.

"This helicopter was completely treated to deal with ageing problems and to allow it to perform with the highest efficiency," says the commanding officer of the air force's "Nocturnal birds of prey" squadron, identified only as Lt Col Y.

"We received a platform which is more capable to deal with the missions it may meet in the future. We are very satisfied with the results, and we can perform our missions with greater confidence."

Israeli air force CH-53
 © Moti Shvimer

Upgrades to Israel's first CH-53 2025 were completed in late 2008, with the air force's 22 maintenance unit having received some help from local industry. Flight International visited the line where additional aircraft are being almost totally dismantled, reinforced and equipped with new systems and avionics.

One of the major new capabilities to have been introduced is the Helicom network-centric communications system from Elbit Systems. This provides pilots with enhanced situational awareness and allows infantry commanders to communicate directly with them.

Col Y says the equipment is easy to operate, with a set of touchscreen displays in the cockpit enabling rapid data flow between all network "subscribers".

In total, the 2025 upgrade encompasses around 20 new systems, with these also including advanced electronic warfare equipment, satellite communications, an altitude hold and hovering stabilisation system and a laser obstacle ranging and display system.

Sikorsky has also supplied replacement main gearboxes, with the type's original equipment having been monitored closely for cracks over recent years.

Source: Flight International