Swiss Air Force Cougar helicopters’ to be upgraded by RUAG

RUAG Aviation will be upgrading eight of the Swiss Air Force’s Cougar helicopters transport fleet after an agreement was signed in December.

The helicopters’ flight control, navigation and communication systems are in need of extensive modernization and RUAG will improve the helicopters with state-of-the-art technology by the middle of 2022

The full scope of the upgrade, which includes new flight management computers, a precision navigation system for instrument flights, a collision avoidance system, alerting pilots to aircraft in critical proximity, and a system developed by RUAG that sends an audible signal when the rotorcraft leaves a defined flight level. The package also features helmet mounted displays, for projecting the most important flight data on the pilot’s visor and new radio equipment and satellite phones, for ensuring safe and efficient communication.

RUAG will also fit the helicopters with the latest IDAS-3 self-defense system, which alerts the crew to radar, laser and electro-optical waves, as well as missiles. It also issues countermeasures, such as dispensing decoys. Cougar specialists at RUAG plan to disassemble the transport helicopters, check the relevant parts for wear and damages and repair or replace them as necessary. Then the Cougar helicopters will be returning to the Air Force as good as new or improved.

Philipp Berner, Senior Vice President Military Aviation RUAG, said: “Ensuring the readiness of the Swiss helicopter fleet is an essential part of our core mission. This upgrade will provide the Air Force with a state-of-the-art transport helicopter system for the decade to come and, in doing so ensure mission success.”

The Air Force operates 15 transport helicopters in addition to the 10 Cougar helicopters, under the designation “Super Puma”, which were procured at the end of the 1980s. The older helicopters were modernized by RUAG between 2011 and 2014.

Transport helicopters save lives as they transport people and materials, support search and rescue missions for missing persons and are considered a highly prized tool in disaster relief missions in Switzerland and abroad.