The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) will receive the first operational variant of the H-36 Caracal helicopter before the end of 2015. The delivery date was guaranteed on Thursday (03/12) with the signing of an addendum to the helicopter purchase contract with the Airbus Helicopters / Helibras consortium. In all, the contract provides for the delivery of 50 helicopters for the three services.
The H-36 operational version will be the first helicopter in Latin America fitted with a probe for in-flight refueling. This capability is today available in Brazil only for fighter aircraft, and will increase the radius of action for missions such as rescue of people at sea.
According to Colonel Valter Borges Malta, project manager at the Coordinating Committee of the Programme of Combat Aircraft (COPAC), the basic version of the helicopter, already used by the military, has been positively assessed in operation. "It meets the requirements established by the staffs of the three forces," he said.
The president of Helibras, Eduardo Marson, stressed the Caracal’s importance for the country. "The signing of this addendum is a win-win situation for us both, as we have as ultimate goal the development of our capabilities, of the in-country supply chain, and of the aviation industry as well as of the armed forces," he said. The helicopters are assembled at the company's headquarters in Itajubá (MG state).
Today, there are already 19 Caracals in service in Brazil: 7 with the Navy, five each with the Army and air force, and two with the Presidency. The remaining 31 helicopters will be delivered by 2022. Still in 2015, in addition to the first operational helicopter for the air force, another two will be delivered to the Army.
In addition to the in-flight refueling probe, the operational version for the air force comprises sensors -- such as the Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Laser Warning System (LWS) and Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) – which are able to detect the presence of enemy radars and missiles. Also part of the electronic countermeasures package are encrypted communications, an infrared camera and other equipment.