|Aerospatiale SA.532 "Horizon"|
The Horizon system, Helicoptere d'Observation Radar et d'Investigation sur Zone, is operational with the French Army. The helicopter surveillance system was originally developed to counter any possible threat by the tank fleets of the Warsaw Pact countries. The end of the Cold War and the uncertainty of the timing and scope of new military threats has brought emphasis to the importance of Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, C3I, and the role of the heliborne surveillance radar. The French Ministry of Defence awarded a development contract to Eurocopter in 1992 initially for two then four AS 532 UL Horizon systems. The system includes a Cougar AS 532 UL twin-engine helicopter with radar and electronic countermeasures and a ground station. The first flight of the Horizon Cougar helicopter with the full radar system took place in late 1992. The first AS 532 Horizon was delivered to the French Army in July 1996. It is also in service with the Swiss Air Force, with 27 aircraft ordered.
The helicopter is equipped with a long range multi-mode retractable pulse Doppler radar. A rotating antenna is carried beneath the fuselage. The radar range is 200km with the helicopter operating at an altitude of 4000m and a cruise speed of 180 km per hour. The radar scans a ground area of 20,000km2 over a depth of 200km in 10 seconds and the data is transmitted to a ground station. For moving targets the radar provides a speed resolution of the target of 2 m/second. The cockpit is night vision goggle compatible. A weather radar is fitted. The helicopter communications systems are encrypted. The navigation equipment includes a Decca navigator and flight log with an SFIM model 155 autopilot, inertial navigation and global positioning system. Standard equipment includes a VHF omnidirectional radio range equipment (VOR), instrument landing system (ILS), radar altimeter and a global positioning system (GPS).
The Cougar helicopter, AS 532 UL is unarmed.
The engine is fitted with jet efflux diluters to reduce the thermal signature of the helicopter.
The crew are armour protected. The flight deck and cabin floor are of crashworthy construction and the helicopter is equipped with anti-icing systems.
The AS 532 UL Cougar helicopter is equipped with two Turbomeca Makila 1A1 turboshaft engines. The air intakes are protected from debris with a grille. Centrisep multipurpose air intakes are provided for operations in high dust/particulate or desert conditions. Six flexible fuel tanks with a capacity of 2,020 litres are self-sealing in the event of leakage following a crash or being pierced by projectiles.