The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) AS550 Fennec (single-engine) and AS555 Fennec 2 (twin-engine) are lightweight, multipurpose military helicopters manufactured by Airbus Helicopters. Based on the AS350 Ecureuil and AS355 Ecureuil 2 series, they are named after the fennec fox. The armed versions of the AS550 and AS555 can be fitted with coaxial weapons, rockets, torpedoes and various other munitions.
The Fennec belongs to the Ecureuil / Fennec family of helicopters which includes: the single-engine military AS550 Fennec and civil AS350 Ecureuil; twin-engine naval AS555 Fennec and civil AS355 Ecureuil; and the civil EC 130 single-engine helicopter.
The AS550 Fennec can be fitted for anti-tank, air-to-air combat, ground support and training missions and it is also used in the utility transportation role. The combat version is called the AS550C3.
The helicopters are in production at Eurocopter’s engineering and production facilities at Marignane in France, and they are also built under licensed production agreements in Brazil, China and Indonesia.
The Fennec is of light construction based on a reinforced high-strength glass fibre and aramid airframe. The Starflex main rotor head and blades are also of composite materials for added strength and weight reduction. The engine cowlings are armoured for protection.
The helicopter is fitted with armoured seats and can carry the pilot and up to five troops. The cabin can also be configured for medical evacuation with capacity for one stretcher patient and two doctors. For cargo carrying, the cabin can take a 3m³ load.
The cockpit is equipped with single controls and is night-vision compatible. The navigation suite includes a global positioning system (GPS), a VHF omnidirectional radio ranger and instrument landing system (VOR/ILS), an automatic direction finder (ADF), distance measuring equipment (DME) and a marker beacon transponder. The secure communications systems are fitted according to the customer country’s specification.
The pilot has a vehicle and engine multifunction display which allows shows the main vehicle and engine parameters on a dual LCD screen.
The helicopter is fitted with a wide range of weapon systems to suit the operational requirements of the country’s forces. Weapon fits include anti-tank missiles, rockets or guns. The Danish Army AS550C2 helicopters are armed with the Systems & Electronics (formerly ESCO) HeliTOW sighting system and TOW anti-tank missiles. The HeliTOW sight is roof-mounted and contains direct view optics, day and/or night sight and laser rangefinder.
The Fennec can be fitted with two Forges de Zeebrugge rocket launchers which carry seven 2.75in rockets each, or two Thales Brandt 68mm launchers with 12 rockets each. The helicopter has been fitted with the Giat 20mm gun type M621, and the FN Hershal twin 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine gun pod.
The surveillance and observation systems include a forward-looking infrared (FLIR), optical cameras and Spectrolab SX 16 searchlights. Thales Detexis EWR-99 radar warning receiver and Alkan ELIPS countermeasures dispenser can be fitted.
AS350 L1/L2 Ecureuil – Original military variants of AS350.
AS550 C2 Fennec – Armed version based on AS350 B2.
AS550 U2 Fennec – Unarmed version based on AS350 B2.
AS550 C3 Fennec – Armed version based on AS350 B3.
AS355 M/M2 Ecureuil 2 – Original military variants of AS355 F.
AS555 AF Fennec 2 – Armed version based on AS355 N.
AS555 AN Fennec 2 – Armed military version, can be fitted with a 20 mm cannon.
AS555 AR Fennec 2 – Armed with cannon and rockets.
AS555 MN Fennec 2 – Unarmed naval version.
AS555 MR Fennec 2 – Naval version.
AS555 SN Fennec 2 – Armed naval version.
AS555 SR Fennec 2 – Armed naval version.
AS555 UN Fennec 2 – Training and utility version.
AS555 UR Fennec 2 – Utility version.
AS555 SP Fennec 2 – Naval version of AS355 NP.
The Fennec light helicopter is operational with Argentine Naval Aviation, Colombian Navy, Royal Danish Air Force, Ecuadorian Army, French Air Force, French Army, Indonesian Army, Republic of Singapore Air Force, Royal Malaysian Navy, Mexican Navy, Pakistan Army Aviation Corps Royal Thai Army and United Arab Emirates Army. The helicopter first entered into service in 1990.