By Joseph Roukoz
In its booth at Expodefensa Airbus showcased its proposals for Latin America, as well as of course more specifically for Colombia.
The model of the C295 light-medium multipurpose tactical transport aircraft could not be missed this aircraft having operated successfully with the Colombian Air Force, particularly in the recent COVID-19 crisis, where it was intensely used as air ambulance.
Airbus also presented a model of an earth observation satellite and a model of the SIRTAP (Sistema RPAS Táctico de Altas Prestaciones), a new generation tactical drone developed by Airbus Spain and Colombia’s CIAC.
The main focus was however on the twin-engine H145 helicopter, both in its civilian and military version.
A true all-rounder the H145, and its H145M military version, is perfectly suited to the hot and high operational conditions specific to Colombia, Airbus representatives underlined. Its power, range, endurance and payload capability provide a variety of deployment possibilities, especially when operating in sand and dust and at altitudes of 6,000 feet and temperatures of over 35 ° C.
The H145 is powered by two Safran Arriel 2E turbines with dual-channel full authority digital engine controls (FADEC), linked to an upgraded transmission.
The H145M cannon can be controlled by the crew either through a helmet-mounted display or through the electro-optic system, the same being true for missiles.
The H145M compact airframe low profile, its agility in flight, systems redundancy, self-sealing fuel tanks, ballistic protection and infrared suppressor, along with crashworthiness designed into the fuselage and seats, all contribute to its survivability. The electronic warfare system and chaff and flare dispensers bring an extra level of protection in high-threat environments.
The H145M is equipped with a modern digital glass cockpit, Airbus’ advanced Helionix avionics suite, which is night vision goggle-compatible, and is equipped with a 4-axis digital autopilot that drastically reduces the pilot’s workload.
Enhancements include an upgraded transmission system and the adoption of Airbus’ signature Fenestron shrouded tail rotor for improved anti-torque control.
In service with the US Army’s as light utility helicopter as UH-72A Lakota, it demonstrated an availability rate of greater than 90%.
In March 2019, at Heli-Expo in Atlanta, Airbus Helicopters unveiled the new variant of its H145 twin-engine helicopter, fitted with a new five-blade rotor, versus the four-blade one of previous variants, the new model being lighter, more economical and carrying a larger payload while reducing maintenance needs. It was certified by the European regulatory agency in June 2020. The new H145M military version should be certified by year end and offered to all Airbus Helicopters military customers. These can acquire the helicopter at the new standard, or upgrade their existing H145M to the new version with a relatively simply modification.
Photo courtesy J. Roukoz