The Eurocopter AS550 Fennec single-engine helicopter is operational with the Singapore armed forces, the Royal Australian Army, the Brazilian Army and Air Force, the Danish Army, the French Army and the United Arab Emirates Army. The helicopter first entered into service in 1990.
The Fennec belongs to the Ecureuil / Fennec family of helicopters which includes: the single-engine military AS550 Fennec and civil AS350 Ecureuil; twin-engine naval AS555 Fennec and civil AS355 Ecureuil; and the civil EC 130 single-engine helicopter.
The AS550 Fennec can be fitted for anti-tank, air-to-air combat, ground support and training missions and it is also used in the utility transportation role. The combat version is called the AS550C3.
The helicopters are in production at Eurocopter’s engineering and production facilities at Marignane in France, and they are also built under licensed production agreements in Brazil and in China.
AS550 Fennec helicopter orders and deliveries
Over 4,890 Ecureuil / Fennec helicopters have been delivered and are operational in over 110 countries.
The delivery of six AS550 Fennec helicopters to the UAE Air Force was completed in 2008, while the Pakistan Army procured an additional AS550 Fennec in early 2009.
A proposed order of 197 Fennec helicopters by India was cancelled in December 2007 due to discrepancy in the bidding process.
In 2010, the Ecuador MoD placed an order for seven AS550 C3 Fennec helicopters and two AS350 B2 helicopters. The two AS350 helicopters were delivered in December 2011.
The first two AS550 helicopters were delivered to the Ecuadorian MoD in October 2012. The remaining helicopters will be delivered between 2013 and 2015 at the rate of two per year.
AS550 Fennec helicopter design
The AS550 is of light construction based on a reinforced high-strength glass fibre and aramid airframe. The Starflex main rotor head and blades are also of composite materials for added strength and weight reduction. The engine cowlings are armoured for protection.
The helicopter is fitted with armoured seats and can carry the pilot and up to five troops. The cabin can also be configured for medical evacuation with capacity for one stretcher patient and two doctors. For cargo carrying, the cabin can take a 3m³ load.
The military AS550 is fitted with sliding doors on each side rather than the hinged door fitted on the civil AS350 variant. The 1m³ baggage compartment is installed behind the main cabin and is accessed via a door on the starboard side.
A cargo sling, rated at 1,160kg, and a 204kg hoist can be used.
AS550 cockpit systems
The cockpit is equipped with single controls and is night-vision compatible. The navigation suite includes a global positioning system (GPS), a VHF omnidirectional radio ranger and instrument landing system (VOR/ILS), an automatic direction finder (ADF), distance measuring equipment (DME) and a marker beacon transponder. The secure communications systems are fitted according to the customer country’s specification.
The pilot has a vehicle and engine multifunction display which allows shows the main vehicle and engine parameters on a dual LCD screen.
Fennec weapons systems
The helicopter is fitted with a wide range of weapon systems to suit the operational requirements of the country’s forces. Weapon fits include anti-tank missiles, rockets or guns. The Danish Army AS550C2 helicopters are armed with the Systems & Electronics (formerly ESCO) HeliTOW sighting system and TOW anti-tank missiles. The HeliTOW sight is roof-mounted and contains direct view optics, day and/or night sight and laser rangefinder.
The AS550 can be fitted with two Forges de Zeebrugge rocket launchers which carry seven 2.75in rockets each, or two Thales Brandt 68mm launchers with 12 rockets each. The helicopter has been fitted with the Giat 20mm gun type M621, and the FN Hershal twin 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine gun pod.
The surveillance and observation systems include a forward-looking infrared (FLIR), optical cameras and Spectrolab SX 16 searchlights. Thales Detexis EWR-99 radar warning receiver and Alkan ELIPS countermeasures dispenser can be fitted.
The AS550 is powered by a single Turbomeca Arril 2B engine, which provides 632kW of take-off power. The engine is fitted with full authority digital engine control (FADEC). The FADEC system reduces the work load of the pilot as well as the fuel consumption. The main gearbox has a 45-minute dry run capability.
The self-sealing plastic fuel tank has a capacity of 540l. An auxiliary fuel tank can be installed in the cabin to provide an additional 475l of fuel for extended-range operations.
The AS550 can climb at the rate of 9.8m a second. The maximum and cruise speeds of the helicopter are 287km/h and 258km/h respectively, while the range and service ceiling of the helicopter are 666km and 7,000m respectively.
The maximum altitude of the helicopter is 7,000m and the endurance is four hours and seven minutes.
The AS550 weighs around 1,202kg and the maximum take-off weight of the helicopter is 2,250kg.
The helicopter has steel tube skid-type landing gear. Emergency flotation gear is fitted for operation over water.
The Global Military Rotorcraft Market 2011-2021
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