The Finnish Army will be completing a cab hardware refurbishment project on its MD500 helicopters, upgrading the multifunction display in the cockpit and making the fleet night vision (NVG) compatible, Lt. Col. Kimmo Nordberg, Chief of Army Aviation, told Avionics International. The refurbishment project is projected to be completed in the middle of 2022 and will be completed by the strategic partner of the Finnish Defense Forces, Patria.
“Major change will be the replacement of old instruments with multifunction display,” Nordberg said. “At the same time, the cockpits of the three old versions of MD500 will be changed to NVG compatible. After this upgrade, the whole fleet is NVG capable. There is also a new encrypted radio installation and data link.”
The refurbishment project, first announced in a press release by the Finnish Defense Ministry, will also include an exterior paint update to compliment the cockpit upgrades.
The MD500 fleet update will allow it to meet the requirements of special aviation missions with new management capabilities such as encryption enabled voice communications systems to communicate between machines and ground forces, and compatibility with other branches of defense. Pilots will also be able to switch between the NH90 and the MD500 more seamlessly with the new electronic multifunction display flight control gauges.
The MD500 helicopter is used in training, passenger transport, and even to assist other authorities in search tasks, according to the release.
The press release also announced the testing of the visibility of helicopters in Finnish terrain by giving the NH90 transport helicopters a painting diagram where the surface of the helicopter is painted with a white winter mask paint. This will allow the Army to study the effect of color masking.