As part of a ceremonial handover, RUAG returned the last of a total of nine modernized Cougars to the Swiss Air Force’s helicopter fleet. The series modernization program received approval from the Federal Council in 2018 on the occasion of the Army Dispatch and started in early 2019 with the conversion of the first Cougar. In February 2017, as part of the 2018 Army Dispatch, the Federal Council commissioned the series project and thus the value retention of the Swiss Air Force’s fleet of Cougars. After the successful value retention program to modernize the TH89 Super Puma to become the TH06, the TH98 Cougar was in turn modernized to make it the TH18.
This modernization program lasted around three years and concluded according to plan with the handover of the last of the remaining eight modernized TH18 Cougars. To extend the useful life of the helicopter, which was already 20 years old, and ensure its availability until at least 2035, RUAG modernized the fleet of TH98 Cougars. The goal of the value retention was to harmonize the Super Puma and Cougar transport helicopters. This will allow more uniform and simplified operational procedures and training. As a future-oriented technology partner of the Swiss Armed Forces, RUAG makes a significant contribution to sovereign security for Switzerland.
The Eurocopter AS532 Cougar (now Airbus Helicopters H215M) is a twin-engine, medium-weight, multipurpose helicopter developed by France. The AS532 is a development and upgrade of the Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma in its militarized form. The AS332 Super Puma, designed as a growth version to replace the SA 330 Puma, first flew in September 1977. It was fitted with two 1,330 kW Turbomeca Makila 1A1 turboshaft engines, composite rotor blades, improved landing gear and a modified tailfin. In 1990 all military Super Puma designations were changed from “AS 332” to “AS 532 Cougar” to distinguish between the civil and military variants of the helicopter.
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. The overhaul will involve disassembling the aircraft to replace or repair relevant parts that are damaged. Work under the agreement carried out the company’s facilities in Emmen. The Swiss Air Force currently operates ten Cougar helicopters and 15 other transport helicopters, which are used to transport people and materials, support disaster relief, search and rescue missions at home and abroad.