Senegal upgrades gunships
Senegal has upgraded its pair of Russian-supplied Mil Mi-24P 'Hind-F' helicopter gunships with a new Israeli high-definition electro-optical (EO) system.
The low-weight, fully gyro-stabilised, nose-mounted 29-kg DSP-HD system was developed by Israel’s Controp Precision Technologies Ltd, and includes a thermal imaging device, a high-definition (HD) daylight camera, a daylight spotter channel, an automatic target tracker and an eye-safe laser rangefinder and laser pointer.
Controp specialises in helicopter electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera payloads for defence and homeland security use. The system has been installed on United Nations-operated Mi-17 helicopters, the Bell 407, the Eurocopter EC-145 helicopter, and now on the Mi-24 helicopter.
The new Controp quad-HD multi-sensor payload has been supplied recently to an undisclosed Asian customer.
Johnny Carni, Controp’s VP marketing, explained that the recent orders had been placed after a thorough evaluation process, and said that the company’s systems had been selected “due to their outstanding gyro-stabilisation, image quality and very attractive and competitive price”.
Carni added that the use of a continuous zoom lens with the system’s thermal imager and newly added HD camera made it “ideal for day and night surveillance applications” at what he called “an unmatched price/performance ratio”.
The Senegalese ‘Hinds’, with their twin-barrelled 30mm cannon, were delivered in 2007 and are the most potent armed combat aircraft in the Senegalese inventory. They will remain so pending the delivery of three Embraer Super Tucanos, though two Mi-171 ‘Hip-H’ helicopters can also carry unguided rocket pods.
The new Controp sensor package will expand the Mi-24P’s combat and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities, and may also be fitted to the Senegalese ‘Hips’.
The Armée de l’Air Sénégalaise helicopters are based at Ouakam, near the capital of Dakar, in a military enclave on the far side of the Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport, though they are regularly deployed to other bases all over the country.