Hensoldt opens airborne service centre in Germany

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Hensoldt has opened a new airborne service centre (ASC) in Oberkochen, Germany, to repair Argos II HD gimbal-mounted electro-optical systems, which are manufactured by Hensoldt Optronics in South Africa.

Hensoldt in mid-October said that by setting up the ASC at its site in Oberkochen, customers now have the advantage of massive time savings as well as direct contacts in their own country.

“With the establishment of the Airborne Service Centre, the downtimes of the Argos II HD-carrying units of German customers, such as the helicopters of the German Federal Police and the Thuringian State Police, will be significantly reduced,” explained Marco Liebscher, Head of ILS/ISS Customer Services Optronics. “By providing spare parts and carrying out all relevant maintenance work, including the necessary documentation and approvals in accordance with EASA Form 1, Hensoldt is able to work without depending on other maintenance companies.”

With the opening of the ASC at the Oberkochen site Hensoldt can repair its gimbals to depot maintenance level in the company’s own service centre, which is “a great advantage for European customers. D-level maintenance usually takes place in highly specialised repair depots and in facilities of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). At the same time, the company is creating another important pillar of the service business in Oberkochen with the ASC as a basis for future service agreements and negotiations already underway,” Hensoldt added.

Hensoldt South Africa is the manufacturer of the Argos II, and last year delivered two systems for Thuringia State Police EC145 helicopters. In addition to the Thuringia State Police, the German Federal Police has also recently started using the Argos II on its helicopters.

In South Africa, Paramount Group has integrated the Argos II HD onto its multi-mission Mwari aircraft, giving it enhanced day/night capabilities. The gimbal forms part of the standard configuration of the Mwari.

A wide variety of South African platforms use various Hensoldt gimbals, with the LEO 400 used by the South African Police Service air wing for many years, while the Goshawk 350 and LEO II are used on its BO 105 and AS350 helicopters as well as its Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter fixed wing aircraft. The South African Air Force uses the Argos 410 on its Caravan surveillance aircraft while the Argos 410 LUH is fitted to the A109 Light Utility Helicopters. Argos M systems are installed on the Super Lynx maritime helicopters and Hensoldt is the prime contractor for the EO/IR targeting sight on the Rooivalk helicopter.

Designed, developed and manufactured by Hensoldt South Africa, the Argos II airborne electro-optical system is designed for installation on helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for surveillance missions. The stabilised system is composed of a number of sensors and electronics in a single interchangeable unit. These include a high-definition (HD) MWIR thermal imaging camera with continuous optical zoom and a unique HD multispectral TV zoom camera. A SWIR spotter camera provides additional multispectral capabilities, especially under harsh conditions with low visibility. The near-infrared (NIR) laser pointer and near-infrared (NIR) laser illuminator improve the system’s operational efficiency. The Argos II HD has the capability to be easily upgraded to the Argos II HDT, which includes target designation.

In October, Hensoldt announced that QinetiQ GmBH, based in Germany, had accepted two Argos II HD systems, which were put into operation six months after being ordered. They are fitted to QinetiQ’s DA 62MPP aircraft manufactured by Diamond Aircraft Industries in Austria and will be used for reconnaissance services and training of national and international customers.