Eurocopter flexing its military might
June 13, 2012, Paris, Fra. - Backed by the largest range of military helicopters in operation with armed forces around the world, Eurocopter is showcasing the versatility and efficiency of its rotorcraft at the Eurosatory 2012 exhibition, June 11-15 at the Villepinte Exhibition Center near Paris.
By Carey Fredericks
This presence will include French Army displays of the most modern air response capabilities in France and foreign theaters, based on its Eurocopter Tiger combat helicopter and the multi-role NH90 transport. Eurocopter’s EC645 T2 version will be unveiled as well on the exhibit stand of parent company EADS (D480), along with the multi-role EC725 helicopter.
Also during the Eurosatory land defense and security exhibition, Eurocopter is set to showcase the many decades of experience acquired in the military helicopter sector. Benefiting from its wide diversity of rotary-wing aircraft and their ability to adapt to a broad spectrum of missions, Eurocopter’s product line represents a benchmark – with operational uses ranging from reconnaissance, identification and tracking to deterrence, escort, attack, rescue and troop transportation.
“In offering the largest range of military helicopters, Eurocopter responds to the growing diversity of missions carried out by armed forces around the globe,” said Dominique Maudet, Executive Officer for France & Vice President Global Business and Services Eurocopter Group. “In seeking to reinforce our strong ties with customers, we are paying particularly close attention to the feedback received from a number of armed forces, who are helping us to improve our products on a continual basis and offer rotorcraft that meet their every operational requirement.”
The EC645 is the latest member of Eurocopter’s military helicopter family, and the new T2 version will be a highlight of EADS’ static display at Eurosatory. The EC645 is the militarized version of the EC145 – a 3.5-metric-ton helicopter that is in widespread use around the world for homeland security, law enforcement, search & rescue (SAR) and medical evacuation missions. This versatile helicopter can be rapidly reconfigured to meet a wide range of requirements in any number of missions and complex combat scenarios, including asymmetric warfare. Equipped with an independent armament system capable of dealing with all threats, the EC645 incorporates a mission computer; an electro-optical system with an infrared camera, laser telemeter and laser designator; a targeting system complete with head-up display technology; and two weapon pylons with slaving units. It also comes with a wide choice of weapons loads (guns, missiles and unguided or guided rockets).
The EC145 helicopter family scored a major success when it was selected by the U.S. Army for its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program, with the contract comprising nearly 350 aircraft in total. More than 200 of these helicopters, which are designated the UH-72A in their U.S. Army configuration, have now been received by the customer – with all delivered on time and on cost from the production line of Eurocopter’s American Eurocopter subsidiary in the state of Mississippi. Feedback on the operational use of this fleet has been incorporated into the new T2 version now available to armed forces.
Eurocopter’s EC665 Tiger, the world’s most modern and best-performing attack helicopter, and the NH90, the most advanced helicopter in its class, also will be presented by the French Army in their operational configurations at Eurosatory.
Orders have been placed for 206 Tiger combat helicopters, with France accounting for 80 of them, Germany another 80, Spain 24 and Australia 22. Eighty-four of these aircraft already are in service, and have demonstrated their performance in operational theaters such as Afghanistan and Libya, where they displayed exceptional maneuverability, precision, durability in combat and range. In parallel with the French Army HAP (combat support helicopter) version currently deployed in Afghanistan, the Tiger HAD (support and attack helicopter) has been engaged in a flight test program since last September with the goal of obtaining certification between now and the end of 2012. Fitted with new MTR390 engines specially designed for its proposed missions, it also features new versions of basic and mission software. France and Spain have ordered 40 and 24 Tiger HADs respectively, and the helicopter is offered for export.
The 11-metric-ton NH90 is the largest military helicopter program ever undertaken in Europe, delivered in two versions: as a Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH). It provides a common platform for land, air and sea missions at day and night without major restrictions. Such flexibility allows countries to streamline their helicopter fleets and efficiently manage personnel and hardware. The NH90’s large cabin, accessibility (via two side doors and an optional rear ramp) and the speed at which it can be adapted to new missions are the keys to its exceptional operational flexibility in a wide range of scenarios. At the end of last year, Eurocopter delivered the NH90’s first operationally-certified TTH version to the French Armament Procurement Agency (DGA), a landmark in this European program. A total of 529 NH90s have now been ordered by 14 countries, among them Germany, Australia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. In all, the 101 NH90 helicopters that have so far been delivered to armed forces worldwide have logged more than 20,000 flight hours.
The EC725 helicopter presented by Eurocopter in the form of a 1:10 scale model at Eurosatory also demonstrates its capabilities in the 11-metric-ton category. Designed from the outset as a versatile multi-role helicopter, the EC725 is capable of performing missions that include SAR, combat SAR, long-distance tactical transport and medical airlift, as well as logistics support and special operations. It also is well suited to naval missions, while the French version of the EC725 – known as Caracal – has proved its worth in Afghanistan and Africa. To date, a total of 117 EC725/EC225-family helicopters have been ordered by countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Eurosatory will provide Eurocopter with an opportunity as well to underline the decades of proven experience in military markets by presenting its core products. This includes the display of its Fennec helicopter – a member of the famous Ecureuil rotorcraft family, which today is performing combat, combat support, tracking, escort and training missions around the world. Also present at Eurosatory in scale model form are the Panther and the Dauphin family, which can engage in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, SAR, surveillance and control missions, maritime counterterrorism operations and casualty/medical evacuations. Completing its exhibit will be a model of Eurocopter’s EC635 – the helicopter of choice for armed reconnaissance, combat support, escort and attack missions.