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Macedonia seeks follow-up to upgrade project

Modernisation will enable helicopters to participate in NATO night-flying exercises

Macedonia is negotiating a follow-on upgrade contract with Elbit Systems for six helicopters following the successful completion by the Israeli company of a project to modernise four aircraft to NATO standards.

The Macedonian air force earlier this month demonstrated the two Mil Mi-17 and two Mi-24V helicopters that have been upgraded with night-vision head-up displays by Elbit as part of a $2 million contract. The modernisation enables the helicopters to participate in NATO-compatible night-flying operations.

The Macedonian government is close to signing another contract for a more comprehensive upgrade of six helicopters. Macedonia will contribute to NATO two combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopters, and the Macedonian ministry of defence plans a second-stage upgrade for the two Macedonian Mi-17s that were involved in the first phase.

The next upgrade would equip the helicopters with new communication, identification and navigation systems, including multifunction displays and digital moving map. The Macedonian air force also plans a more advanced upgrade for another four Mi-24 helicopters.

The Mi-24 upgrade package will incorporate the complete first-stage upgrade, plus the second-stage Mi17 upgrade supplemented by improved radar warning receivers and chaff/flare dispensers and a stabilised multi-sensor payload, including camera, infrared, auto-tracker and laser rangefinder/laser designator, integrated with a helmet sight, multifunction displays and digital moving map.

IGOR BOZINOVSKI/SKOPJE

Source: Flight International