The National Police Air Service (NPAS) in the UK has taken delivery of the first of seven upgraded H135 helicopters as part of a GBP1.5 million contract signed in December 2017 to equip and standardise the UK police helicopter fleet's night vision capability. Under the new configuration, all seven NPAS H135s will be capable of NVIS operations down to ground level, enhancing night time surveillance capabilities at all heights and in all environments.
The first upgraded aircraft, G-POLF, was first delivered to the UK police in 2002 and, with more than 15,000 flight hours, is a global H135 fleet leader. The standardised upgrade, common to all seven helicopters, will deliver the latest NVIS capability and bring these aircraft in line with NPAS' current NVIS-capable H135 fleet.
Oliver Dismore, NPAS accountable manager, states: “Airbus Helicopters' UK design team is recognised as a European leader in the design and integration of night vision capabilities across the company's range of helicopters, while the company's 30 year heritage supporting the development of UK police aviation and its collaborative approach has meant the impact on fleet availability and operations has been minimised.”
Airbus Helicopters UK MD Colin James adds: “Whether designing innovative rotary-wing solutions for UK and overseas customers or supporting UK helicopter fleet availability, our aircraft are the best fit for policing and emergency services missions and our team, working 24/7 from sites across the UK, ensures these can be relied on to deliver day in, day out.”
The upgrade includes stripping the majority of the cockpit instrumentation in all seven helicopters and re-equipping them to the same standard with new flight and mission equipment and FENN700+ night vision goggles. This will alllow NPAS to operate an enhanced night vision capability across its H135 fleet.