MELBOURNE, Australia — Singapore’s fleet of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack and CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters are being fitted with defensive suites from Elbit Systems as part of survivability and mission capability upgrades.
Close examination of photographs of upgraded Apaches and Chinooks of the Republic of Singapore Air Force, or RSAF, show that they have been fitted with missile approach and laser warning systems that look identical to that offered by Elbit as part of its All-in-Small integrated electronic warfare suite.
A spokesman from Singapore’s Ministry of Defence had earlier confirmed that the RSAF “is equipping the AH-64D with new mission systems to enhance the helicopter’s survivability and improve its mission capability,” adding that the “upgrading programme involves equipping the AH-64D with a Helicopter Integrated Electronic Warfare System (HIEWS) to enhance survivability and SATCOM for more robust communications.”
The helicopters are also fitted with rectangular-shaped radar warning receivers, or RWR, similar to that carried on RSAF’s AS332M/M-1 Super Puma medium-lift helicopter fleet, which had its upgrades completed earlier this decade. Sources have confirmed to Defense News that these RWRs are also an Elbit product, although the company declined to confirm that Singapore was a customer for its helicopter defensive suite.
Defense News understands that a single RSAF Apache has undergone the upgrade so far. This was an aircraft that was severely damaged during a heavy landing in 2010 and only recently repaired into flyable condition and upgraded. At least three of RSAF’s 10 CH-47SD Chinooks have also undergone the upgrades to date.
With the upgrades, RSAF’s Apaches and Chinooks will be equipped with SATCOM “for more robust communications,” according to the ministry. A SATCOM dome has been fitted onto the outer leading edge of each of the upgraded Apache’s stub wings, similar to that on Israel’s AH-64D Sarafs, for full 360-degree coverage while the upgraded Chinooks have a SATCOM dome on the top of the fuselage in between the twin rotor booms.
The upgrades are being carried out by RSAF and the country’s Defence Science and Technology Agency, or DSTA, which has provided further details of the Chinook upgrade. These include replacement of the existing avionics suite and the installation of new mission systems that incorporates new flight control modes and a personnel locator system, a position and status reporting system and a new dual rescue hoist.
DSTA had also proposed improvements to the software design of the digital Automatic Flight Control System to the Chinook’s handling qualities and accuracy in the hover, although it is not known if these have been carried out on the upgraded helicopters.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.