The European consortium Airbus Helicopters has been developing a smokescreen system that will allow helicopters to be hidden during hanging or landing. The system is created for the light multi-purpose H145M helicopter.
When handing or landing in hover mode, the helicopter is most vulnerable. In some cases, ground detachments, when preparing the landing site, can pre-set a smoke screen, but helicopters do not have their own systems for setting it up.
The Airbus Helicopters believe that the smoke screen will significantly increase the safety of the landing, especially when the helicopter is hovering. At the same time, the company claims that the H145M will be the first helicopter in the world to be equipped with such a system in series.
Speaking on the opening day of the Airbus Defence and Space (DS) Trade Media Briefing 2019 at the company’s Donauworth facility near Munich, project manager Mark Henning said that the development of the H145M helicopter, preliminary tests of the new system have already taken place and are considered successful. These tests have confirmed the concept of concealing helicopters using a smokescreen.
“We are developing an in-flight rapid obscuration system to make the H145M invisible during the most dangerous phase of its mission – when hovering at about 20 m when dropping troops. This has been done for vehicles, but never before for helicopters. We have proven it conceptually, and the results have been very good,” Henning said.
The prototype of the smokescreen system, which has been tested, consists of side smoke generators and one generator placed under the hull. The system produces smoke that can hide the helicopter not only in the visible but also from the infrared spectrum.
The H145 helicopter was developed in the second half of the 1990s. The machine has a length of 13 meters and a height of 3.5 meters. The diameter of the rotor of the helicopter is 11 meters. The helicopter is capable of flying at a speed of 246 kilometres per hour, and its flight range is 680 kilometres.
The H145M is a paramilitary version of the H145 multipurpose helicopter, originally developed for business aviation. This machine is equipped with ballistic protection, non-leaking fuel tanks, optoelectronic and thermal imaging surveillance systems.
In addition, 7.62 or 12.7 mm machine guns can be mounted on the helicopter. Missile weapons pylons are also being developed for the H145M.