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Swiss Air Force completes Cougar helicopter fleet modernization

Swiss Air Force Cougar helicopter modernization
RUAG delivered the final modernized Cougar helicopter to Swiss Air Force on May 5, 2022. Photo: RUAG

The Swiss Air Force has taken delivery of its final upgraded Cougar helicopter, following a three-year modernization program.

RUAG announced the redelivery of the final of nine Cougars on May 6, after it received a contract for the upgrade work in 2019.

The Swiss Air Force first upgraded its TH89 Super Puma transport helicopters to the TH06 configuration, before authorizing the upgrade of the TH98 Cougar to the TH18 configuration. RUAG said the goal of the upgrade was to harmonize the Super Puma and Cougar transport helicopters.

This will allow more uniform and simplified operational procedures and proper training of the crew, allowing the helicopters to remain operational until at least 2035.

Switzerland’s Cougar fleet now features a new flight management system, accurate satellite navigation for instrument flight, and warning systems which sound an alarm in the event of imminent collisions or if the helicopter diverges from the specified altitude.

In future, a helmet display feature will ensure that the pilots have all key information in view at all times. RUAG Aviation also equipped the helicopters with the IDAS self-protection system, which raises the alert if the aircraft is detected by radar or laser beams or attacked with missiles.

Swiss Air Force file photo of a Cougar helicopter in the TH98 configuration

In addition to receiving upgrades, the helicopters underwent a complete overhaul. Combining the modernization with the general overhaul process allowed the air force to keep downtimes as short as possible.

The Swiss Air Force ordered its first AS332 Super Pumas in 1986 before buying a total of 12 Cougars in 1998. A total of nine Cougar helicopters and 15 Super Pumas remain in service.