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Helibras set to deliver upgraded Panthers to Brazil

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A Helibras/Marcio Jumpei photo.

MARIGNANE, FRANCE (BNS): Helibras, the Brazilian subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters, is set to deliver the first two upgraded AS365 Panther K2 rotorcraft to the Brazilian Army this month.

The helicopters will be delivered as part of a contract inked between Helibras and the Brazilian Army Aviation Command (AvEx) in 2010 to upgrade the Panthers to enhance their lifespan by another 25 years.

The contract entailed modernizing a total of 34 Panthers, which included equipping the medium-weight, multipurpose twin-engine military choppers with new, more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2C2 CG engines, among other enhancements.

"The deliveries follow the signature in Brasília of an amendment standardising the modifications introduced to the helicopter's enhanced configuration - which will be assessed by AvEx's various battalions during mission operations.

"Should these evaluations prove favourable, Helibras will continue modernising the remaining 32 AS365 K Panthers in the Brazilian Army's inventory through 2021," Airbus Helicopters said.

Featuring state-of-the-art equipment and systems, the Panther K2 upgrade will enable Brazil's AS365s to remain operational for another 25 years. The contract value for modernising all 34 Panthers in Brazilian Army service is 347 million Brazilian reais, the company said.

"The modernization of military aircraft such as the Panther K2 is taking place in fleets with hi-tech assets and a high purchase value, be they fleets of helicopters, airplanes or ships," said Helibras CEO Eduardo Marson, who sees the upgrading of the Panthers as a strategic step forward in his company's expansion programme.

"This upgrade effort allows Helibras to gain expertise in the key technologies offered in high-performance aircraft types such as the Dauphin family -- on which the Panther military helicopter is based -- and opens the way for the development of new projects through the company's engineering center," he added.

The upgraded helicopter also features a new altimeter and weather radar, new glass cockpit, latest navigation and communication radios and a new tail rotor -- significantly improving performance and safety. These changes provide a helicopter with greater range, more speed and reduced pilot workload.

The Panther K2 has capacity for one or two pilots and 10 troops, a maximum takeoff weight of 4,300 kg., and a top speed of 175 kts. -- which is increased from 150 kts. prior to its upgrade.

Brazil had bought the Panther fleet of helicopters in 1988 for its army to carry troops and use as a light support platform.

A military variant of Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, the Panther helicopter is designed to perform several military tasks, including combat assault, fire support, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and search & rescue operations.

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