Paramount highlights FLASH helicopter weapons kit; upgrades


Paramount Advanced Technologies (PAT) has fitted its FLASH (Flexible Light Armaments System for Helicopters) weapon and sensor kit onto an AS550 helicopter in order to demonstrate the system, and is also promoting its other aircraft upgrade options.

Ralph Mills, CEO of Paramount Advanced Technologies, attended the International Military Helicopter conference in London on 31 January, where he gave a presentation on FLASH. “Presenting at the International Military Helicopter Conference in London has placed our FLASH campaign centrally on the international stage and it was a great opportunity to showcase our collaborative and smart partnering approach which is central to the FLASH strategy,” he said. “More than ten companies have already partnered with us on the campaign.”

The AS550 demonstrator is fitted with a helmet-mounted display, electro-optical turret, mission display, GPS receiver, air data, attitude and heading reference system (ADAHRS), mission computer, computers and weapons, including 12.7 mm gun pods and 70 mm unguided rockets. Various armament options are available such as FN RMP gun pod; 12 tube rocket launchers; 20 mm cannon pods; FZ unguided rockets; 68 mm guided missiles and Mokopa and Ingwe anti-tank missiles.

PAT says FLASH provides a low cost and modular alternative to expensive attack helicopters and while designed for light utility helicopters, it can be fitted to other rotorcraft like the Mi-17 and fixed wing aircraft. Some of its key attributes are that it is ITAR-free, scalable and expandable.

PAT envisions a FLASH-equipped helicopter being able to carry out a wide array of roles, such as armed reconnaissance; fire support; observation and surveillance; airborne command and control; maritime patrol; counter insurgency; training; border surveillance and anti-poaching.

FLASH has been installed on six EC635s for a Middle East Client.

FLASH was preceded by the Stand Alone Weapon System (SAWS) weapons kit, which was jointly designed, developed, manufactured and supported by Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) and Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE – now Paramount Advanced Technologies). The package featured a Belgian FN Herstal HMP–400 12.7 mm machine gun, a French Nexter NC-621 20mm cannon, FZ-233 70 mm rockets and Denel’s Ingwe anti-tank missile.

SAWS was installed on 26 EC635 helicopters in partnership with Airbus Helicopters for a Middle East Client, whose upgraded EC635s are able to fire machineguns, cannons, rockets and Ingwe missiles.

PAT has upgraded 44 Super Hind Mk 3s for a North African client and ten Super Hind Mk 4s for another client. It has also conducted a proof-of-concept upgrade on an Mi-17 for a North African client. Mi-17/24 upgrades can include composite rotor blades, anti-tank missiles, cannon, a sighting system, helmet system and cockpit/avionics upgrades.

For Mi-24 upgrades, systems can include a night vision compatible cockpit, EOS 420 or Argos 550 main sight, Ingwe or Ba’er guided missiles, a G1 cannon turret and Mk 82 bombs.

PAT Airborne Systems Division also offers integrated mission systems for rotary and fixed wing aircraft; sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) amongst others.

Paramount offers Mirage F1 and Gazelle helicopter fleets and has highlighted its previous fixed wing modernisation and upgrade work, including of 24 Hawk jets for the South African Air Force and 54 Mirage F1s for a European client. The F1 upgrade covered a glass cockpit, upgraded radar, new electronic warfare and new communications system.