Tim Ripley

Deliveries of heavily-armed Puma helicopters to the Romanian army, equipped with the new SOCAT weapons system, are to take place in February next year, says the international team integrating advanced technology design on to the proven transport platform.

The helicopter is designed as a multi-role machine and the upgrade programme involves installing an advanced weapon system, along with other modern avionics.

Romanian helicopter manufacturer IAR and Israeli defence electronics and systems integration specialist Elbit Systems began work on the programme in 1996.

The Romanian Army are buying 24 of the upgraded helicopters as part of their on-going programme to re-equip its fleet with up to 150 helicopters, including 96 attack machines.

"We have been in contact with several potential customers who want the full configuration of the helicopter," says IAR programme director Andrei Lorincz. "This is also a testbed for the weapon system that will be used in our attack helicopter when it is developed."


The upgrades will allow the helicopters to be used for attack, armed reconnaissance, escort, assault and search and rescue missions, says Lorincz.

At the core of the upgrade is a "glass cockpit", with multifunction displays, a digital moving map display and a fully integrated modular integrated display and sight helmet. This allows the flight crews to employ the weapons system with minimal reference to in-cockpit instruments.

A sensor suite is available including image intensifier, electro-optical pod and laser rangefinder.

Source: Flight Daily News