South African company Paramount Group is fitting its Flexible Light Armed System for Helicopters (FLASH) onto Airbus Helicopters EC635 (H135M) platforms ahead of delivery to an undisclosed Middle Eastern customer.
Speaking at the IQPC International Military Helicopter conference in London on 31 January, Paramount CEO Ralph Mills said that with 26 similarly upgraded helicopters already delivered to an unnamed Middle Eastern customer, the work to integrate the company’s latest modular weapon system onto a further six platforms is ongoing.
Iraq is known to be the customer of the initial 26 EC635 helicopters that were fitted with the Stand-Alone Weapon System (SAWS) developed jointly by Airbus and South Africa's Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE), which is now part of the Paramount Group. It is not known if the six EC635s being fitted with the latest FLASH system are for Iraq, or if they are for a new customer.
As Mills explained, the FLASH upgrade comprises a helmet-mounted sight and display (HMSD), a mission computer armament relay selection unit, GPS receiver, weapon control panel, video recorder, HMSD computer and data transfer unit, mission display sight controls, and an electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret. The core weapon options are 12.7 mm heavy machine-gun pods and 70 mm rockets, with optional weapons comprising the FN Herstal Rocket Machine Gun Pod (RMP), 12-tube rocket launcher, 20 mm cannon pod, FZ guided rocket, 68 mm guided missile, as well as various anti-tank missiles.
Platforms that Paramount listed as being suitable for the upgrade include the Airbus Helicopters AS350/550, Bell 212, Mil Mi-17 ‘Hip’, and AgustaWestland AW109, though this list is not exhaustive.
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