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Germany completes “world’s first” trial of helicopter-launched smoke screen

ROSY smoke screen deployed from H145M helicopter
Photo: German defense ministry

The German armed forces have carried out what the country’s defense procurement agency BAAINBW claims to be the world’s first trial of a smoke screen deployed from a helicopter.

Earlier this week, the agency said the Bundeswehr Technical and Airworthiness Center for Aircraft (WTD 61) demonstrated the capability to adapt and test the Rapid Obscuring System (ROSY) on the H145M light utility helicopter employed by the German special operations forces (SOF).

BAAINBW says that special forces could particularly benefit from this development.

The agency’s announcement comes after Airbus, the developer of the H145M helicopter, revealed in 2019 it was developing a smoke screen for the helicopter that would be deployed during the insertion of troops in the hover.

It is worth noting that the ROSY that was tested recently was developed by German company Rheinmetall, which has a range of smoke screening systems adapted to various deployment scenarios and vehicles.

Photo: German defense ministry

The German defense ministry has been trialing the use of ROSY on its vehicles since at least early 2021, when it first shed light on the testing process at the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Weapons and Ammunition (WTD91) in Meppen.

Since its inception, the Bundeswehr has equipped nearly every combat vehicle with smoke grenade launchers. Soldiers and vehicles can hide from the enemy’s view behind the thick smoke.

However, the old systems react sluggishly. Several seconds pass between ignition and buildup of the smoke screen. Seconds which might make the difference between life and death in combat. Furthermore, the old system drops the smoke grenades to the ground before the artificial cover is generated.

With ROSY, the smoke screen builds up in the air shortly after ejection. The new smoke grenades also have a longer burn time because they contain a larger charge. According to Rheinmetall, ROSY has integrated IR jamming and decoying capabilities, which allow it to counter TV-, EO-, IR-, IIR-, laser- and SACLOS-guided weapons.

The German defense ministry plans to equip a range of its vehicles with the system and is apparently looking at fitting it on its H145M helicopters.