WZL1 Tailoring Helicopters for SOF Applications

śmigłowiec, wzl1, black hawk
Photo. Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 1 S.A.

Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 1 S.A. (Military Aviation Works No. 1) WZL1 is a company that has been around for almost 8 decades. The company specializes in helicopter repairs, maintenance, overhauls and upgrades. The facility also acts as a Helicopter Maintenance Centre of the Polish Armed Forces. WZL-1 defines its mission as ensuring high operational availability levels for aircraft operated by the Polish Armed Forces. To do that, the WZL1 employees try to be one step ahead of the customer, constantly developing and implementing a myriad of solutions, and preparing the air platforms for operations in ever-changing conditions.

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Tailoring a helicopter for SOF operations, conducted by the Air SOF Unit (based on the 7th Special Operations Squadron) is one of the projects pursued. The modifications included enhancements and changes, including the installation of armour plates, or tailoring the equipment to be NVG-compliant, including the instrument panels crew/troop compartment lighting, and external lights. Furthermore, a winch capable of handling 272 kilograms of payload has been installed, along with a FAST ROPE system and C6300-1V station. The helicopters have also been tailored for rope-based troop delivery, and that change concerned all methods used by any SOF unit around. Furthermore, to increase the protection levels, and self-defence capabilities of the crew, and to protect sensitive components, a new IR-jamming system was implemented, along with the troop compartment gun stations, three for 7.62 mm M134 Miniguns (with a rate of fire of more than 3,500 rounds per minute, and 6,000 rounds available onboard for each of the guns), five for 7.62 mm UKM-2000 machine guns on rotatable station, and extra external and internal armour, protecting the helicopter from small-arms fire.

Photo. Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 1 S.A.

AI-9V starter motor was replaced with SAFIR 5K/G MIS APU.

The WZL1's designers, when creating the project tailoring the helicopters for SOF operations, paid a lot of attention to enhancing the safety levels. For that sake, it was decided to implement a modern digital flight recorder onboard, along with a digital voice recorder, a rescue beacon, and a helmet-mounted flight data display. A lot of emphasis was also placed on making it easier for the crew to navigate the airspace, thanks to the EuroNav7 digital map, VOR/TACAN system, transponder, search radiocompass, and IFF system for recognizing other aircraft. A modern communications suite integrated with the DACS onboard intercom is also a very relevant addition here. That system provides the crew with broad access to the comms suite, from all stations. For external communications, the system makes use of two aviation radios, and two tactical radios, with a SATCOM capability. One should stress the fact that the aforementioned communications suite has been tailored and made compliant with systems operated by NATO. By upgrading helicopters in such a manner, major improvements were made to the quality, speed, and safety levels for the crews, within the scope of the missions conducted by the key users of those platforms.

Photo. Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr 1 S.A.
It is a priority for WZL Nr 1 S.A. to support the aviation assets of the Polish Armed Forces, and thus improving the levels of national security, creating added value for all the citizens. WZL1 is a modern company with an expansive infrastructure and R&D facilities, that has established a strong position within the market. Furthermore, the facility remains constantly ready to render services for the Armed Forces. Not only does it apply to the currently operated air platforms, but also to the prospective ones, expected to soon be introduced into the Polish Air Force's inventory.

@ Marcin Nocuń, President of the Management Board, General Director at WZL-1 S.A.

The company has yet again proven its worth as a reliable supplier of innovative solutions for the Army, and it shows that it is not afraid of any challenge placed up ahead. WZL1 remains in possession of potential for further development and is continuously engaged in efforts aimed at developing new technologies, such as the Three-stage Suborbital Rocket (involving a consortium, WZL1 (leader), Military Institute of Armament Technology (WITU), GAMRAT) - showcasing the WZL1's capacity to work on both the civil, and defence markets. The facility is constantly perfecting its craft and acquiring unique expertise which translates into the growing quality of the rendered services, and being able to perform tasks within the scope of repairs, maintenance, and upgrades regarding all of the current and prospective rotary-wing platforms operated by the Polish Armed Forces.

Project co-financed within the framework of the the Intelligent Development 2014-2020 Operational Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, based on competition held by the National Centre for Research and Development: Fast Route: "Space Technologies"

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