Elbit Systems has completed the first phase of an almost £6 million ($12 million) upgrade to the UK Royal Navy's Westland Sea King HC4 amphibious support helicopters, with the work to support the type's operational deployment to southern Afghanistan from later this year.
Performed under an urgent operational requirement deal with the UK Ministry of Defence, the work has equipped an initial six aircraft with the helmet-mounted ANVIS/HUD-24 night vision and flight information system. The first Sea King to undergo the modification had the new equipment installed and accepted within less than four months, says Elbit.
© Royal Navy
The UK's Defence Equipment and Support organisation says the initial project phase cost £4.3 million, and confirms that a follow-on deal worth £1.5 million has also been signed with Elbit to equip another eight aircraft from the HC4 fleet. The Israeli company says all equipment and spare parts will be delivered by year-end.
The ANVIS/HUD system provides flight symbology on a helmet-mounted display by day or night, with the device using electromagnetic head tracking sensors to provide accurate information to pilots. Elbit has previously delivered more than 50 such systems to the UK armed forces for integration with Royal Air Force Boeing CH-47 Chinook transport and British Army AgustaWestland Lynx utility helicopters.
The MoD earlier this year announced plans to deploy four Sea Kings from the RN's 846 Naval Air Squadron to Afghanistan's Helmand province, where they will provide battlefield support services.
The UK's Sea Kings could remain in operational service well into the next decade under a further round of modernisation now being assessed by AgustaWestland. This work will include enhancements such as new rotor blades to improve aircraft performance in hot and high environmental conditions.