Budget Constraints Force Brazil To Delay Army Helicopters Fleet Upgrade

  • Our Bureau
  • 10:14 AM, October 28, 2016
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Budget Constraints Force Brazil To Delay Army Helicopters Fleet Upgrade
Airbus Helicopters AS550A2 Fennec (H125M)

Brazil had to reschedule the upgrade of the Brazilian Army's (Exército Brasileiro - EB) helicopters due to budgetary constraints.

“Upgrades to the army's 36 Airbus Helicopters AS550A2 Fennec (H125M) and AS350L1 Ecureuil/Esquilo (H125) HA-1-variant platforms, as well as to its 34 Airbus Helicopters AS365 Panther (HM-1 Pantera) platforms, have been delayed by two years as a result of the financial crisis, but that work is now proceeding and the full set of enhanced capabilities will be rolled-out,” Walter Filho, VP Business & Services was quoted as saying by IHS Janes Thursday.

The recent downturn in the Brazil's economy has caused the government to delay the upgrade of the Brazilian Army's (Exército Brasileiro - EB) helicopters but the scope of the work will remain as previously planned.

"The budget constraints caused a rescheduling in the programmes. For the [HA-1] the rate was reduced from seven helicopters per year to four, with the end-date put back from 2019 to 2022. It is the same for the [HM-1], which has been reduced from four-to-six airframes per year to just three and a finish date of 2021 now 2024," Filho said.

The Brazilian Army has 20 Fennec and 16 Ecureuil/Esquilo helicopters in its inventory, all of which are designated HA-1. Under the upgrade plan, Helibras is rebuilding two Fennecs and one Ecureuil/Esquilo, and is equipping the fleet with a 'glass' cockpit, crashworthy seating, and other systems, with the goal of keeping them in service through to the mid-2030s. Of the 36 HA-1s set to go through the upgrade process, 12 have been delivered back to the army to date. Beyond this process, Helibras is also pitching the HForce Generic Weapons Systems to the Fennec portion of the HA-1 fleet, though no decision on this has yet been taken by the army.

The upgraded AS365K Panther/Pantera is being fitted with new Turbomeca Arriel 2C2 CG engines that deliver 40% more power, new engine fairings, a night vision goggle-compatible 'glass' cockpit with a four-axis autopilot, new wiring and a cable-cutting device, enhanced communications and navigation equipment, a weather radar, and a Fenestron tail rotor with asymmetric blades.

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