The Fennec, the military version of the Ecureuil, offers adapted solutions to the wide variety of missions engaged by military commanders. The single-engined versions are equipped with a Turbomeca Arriel 2B turbo-shaft engine, which provides improved high-altitude and high-temperature performances and excellent tactical flight capacities. This new turbine engine with Full Authority Digital Engine Control provides a power increase of approximately 125shp, and also offers the advantages of more modern technology. This means easier maintenance. The multi-function capabilities of the Fennec mean that it can adapt to all sorts of missions, both day and night.
The Fennec currently represents the best transport / radius of action trade-off of any helicopter in its class. In just an hour, it can transport 25 commandos 20 km at altitudes of up to 4,000 meters at ISA temperatures, and up to 3,500 meters at ISA +20°C, while at the same time performing take-offs out of ground effect.
In its attack configuration, the AS 550 C3 Fennec can be equipped with a gun, rockets, or machine guns. Its stability, manoeuvrability and low detectability make it an excellent platform. For example, when armed with a 20 mm axial gun or with two rocket launchers, it can perform 2 hours and 45 minutes of tactical flight missions with 20 minutes fuel reserve.
In its anti-tank configuration, it is equipped for instance with TOW missiles, which are part of the Helitow sighting system, and can operate both day and night. When armed with 4 missiles, this aircraft can perform a tactical flight mission lasting 2 hours 30 minutes, both day and night, and still have a fuel reserve of 20 minutes.
The Fennec range also offers twin-engine land versions in the AS 555 UN and AN, which have take-off weights of 2,600 kg. These aircraft make use of new-generation Turbomeca Arrius 1A turbo-shaft engines, which are digitally controlled. And just like their single-engine counterparts, they can be armed with a wide variety of weapons.
The single and twin-engine versions can also perform complementary missions, such as the pilot training conducted at the renowned Defence Helicopter Flying School, where 38 aircraft are used to train pilots for the British armed forces. Other complementary missions include sling transport, cargo transport, medical evacuations, and SAR missions.
Since it is equipped for Instrument Flying Rules, the Fennec can also be used to train pilots who will be flying medium-to-heavy helicopters, and all at much more affordable costs than previously.
In the naval sector, the multi-function capabilities of the two twin-engine versions - the AS555 MN and the AS 555 SN - are widely used. Both aircraft can be used aboard small ships. The first aircraft can be equipped with a Bendix 1500 radar. It meets the needs of maritime surveillance missions, SAR, and Over-the-horizon Targeting for ships equipped with sea-tosea missiles. The AS 555 SN is armed with torpedoes and is used for anti-submarine warfare. Sixteen SN aircraft were ordered in 2003 by Malaysia to replace their Wasp helicopters, which had become obsolete.
3000 helicopters in the single-engined Ecureuil/Fennec family have already been delivered. The helicopters that have been delivered have already logged over 12 million flight hours for approximately 1500 customers in over 90 countries.
author: Christopher Bach
Picture provided and copyrighted by Gérome DEULIN - EUROCOPTER
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