Airbus Helicopters was awarded with an ambitious modernisation program, by the French General Directorate for Armament, for the 26 Cougar aircraft that are operated by the French Army Aviation. The upgrades included, in particular, a new avionics suite and an exceptional automatic pilot similar to that of the H225M (formerly the EC725). This brings a similar human machine interface between the two aircraft, a real operational advantage for the crew.
Three AS532 Cougar were upgraded in 2013, and five more in 2014 and an additional seven aircraft will be delivered in 2015.
In April 2014, the modernised Cougar successfully participated in its first operational deployment in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane alongside the Tiger and has already demonstrated excellent capabilities.