Israel starts testing upgraded CH-53 assault helicopter

By Arie Egozi

The Israeli air force's first upgraded Sikorsky CH-53 2025 assault helicopter has begun flight-testing with the service's "Night Leaders" squadron.

Work to modify the CH-53 "Yasur" with 20 new systems was completed at the air force's 22 maintenance unit late last year, with key elements including the installation of new electronic warfare and satellite communications equipment. Some of the equipment will enable the CH-53 2025 to perform high-altitude relay missions, with earlier test flights having seen the type reach an altitude of 18,000ft (5,490m).

The aircraft has also been equipped with an altitude hold and hovering stabilisation system and an Elop laser obstacle ranging and display system that will improve safety, including under "brownout" conditions. Sikorsky has also supplied new main gearboxes to replace originals that had been monitored for cracks over recent years.

Israel's CH-53s were upgraded in the 1990s to the -2000 configuration, with the work mainly introducing new avionics equipment.

Flight International

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