Skycore Aviation continues its look at the family of Super Puma helicopters, with a study of the Eurocopter, now Airbus, military multipurpose helicopter, the AS532 Cougar.
H215M / AS532 Cougar
The Eurocopter AS532 Cougar is the military version of the AS332 Super Puma, a twin-engine, medium utility helicopter. In 1990, all military Super Puma designations were rebranded from AS332 to AS532 Cougar to distinguish between the civil and military variants. In 2014, the AS532 was re-designated as the Airbus H215M Cougar.
The AS532 Cougar was further developed as the Eurocopter EC725 Caracal. Skycore will feature the Caracal, currently called the Airbus H225M Super Cougar in an upcoming article in this series.
Cougar components and specific equipment differ from the Super Puma to fulfill its military missions of combat, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface unit warfare (ASUW), combat search and recovery, (CSAR), or SAR and medical evacuation (MedEvac). Cougars are typically equipped with observation domes on cabin doors, searchlight and forward-looking infrared sensor (FLIR). The crew is equipped with third-generation night-vision goggles while the mk2 Cougar aircraft cockpit and cabin area is night-vision goggle compatible. In addition, Cougars will have countermeasure systems such as a radar warner, missile launch warning, infrared jammers and/or chaff and flare decoy systems.
Combat Cougars may be fitted with a variety of surveillance systems and weaponry including side-mounted rapid fire machine guns, 68 mm rocket launchers and pod-mounted 20 mm cannons. ASW Cougars are fitted with AM 39 Exocet missiles while an ASUW will have sonar and torpedoes.
CSAR / SAR Cougars have personnel locator systems (PLS) based on an encrypted communications homing system. PLS systems interface with the Cougar integrated flight display, global positioning system (GPS), Doppler radar, the VHF omnidirectional radio range equipment (VOR), tactical air navigation (TACAN) and distance measuring equipment (DME).
Major Cougar Variants
Eurocopter’s Cougar family was made up of number a variants based on fuselage length, military branch of service and mission equipment. The aircraft designation may include an “Mk” classification for aircraft previously designated as a Super Puma. However the “Mk II” designation applies to aircraft developed after the rebranding to the AS532 Cougar. Here’s a list of common Cougar variants.
- AS532 Mk I AC Army short-fuselage armed variant with pod mounted cannon, 21 troops
- AS532 MK I UC Army short-fuselage unarmed variant, 25 troops
- AS532 MK I AL Army long-fuselage armed variant with pod mounted cannon or side firing cannon
- AS532 Mk I UL Army long-fuselage unarmed variant
- AS532 MC Naval SAR and surveillance
- AS532 Mk I SC Naval maritime combat / ASW with homing torpedoes or the Exocet anti-ship missile
- AS 535 Cougar Mk II A2 RESCO French Army variant for CSAR
Additional variants incorporated a “2” in their designation such as the AS 532 Mk II U2 an unarmed base model, the AS 532A2 Mk II also utilized for Search & Rescue, the armed AS 532 Cougar Mk II U2 A2 and the AS 532 Mk II L2 featuring a lengthened fuselage for extra seating and extended main rotor blades.
Today’s H215M are equipped with a full glass cockpit and modern avionics including a night vision compatible flight deck. Their dual-duplex digital 4-axis autopilot and automatic flight control system (AFCS) provide flight envelope protection. The H215M can carry up to 11 stretchers for MedEvac and a Helicopter Intensive Care Medical Service (HICAMS) configuration is also available.
The Cougar is a hardworking military helicopter that helps to keep citizens safe worldwide. Although found most often in the French, Bulgarian, Turkish and Royal Netherlands air forces it is also found in other countries such as Albania, Slovenia and Spain where it’s used in transport missions. The Brazilian Army relies on the Cougar for multiple missions including rescue, the German Army operates 3 for VIP missions and the Chilean Army has 12 Cougars in its fleet.
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