Swiss Army Knife Effect

Airbus Helicopters unveils HForce, a unique common weapons systems

H145MDonauwörth, Bavaria, Germany: A half-day visit to Airbus Helicopters here was instructive. Since the name change from Eurocopter to Airbus Helicopters in 2014 (as part of the reorganisation of the Airbus Group), the distinction between the military and commercial helicopters has got diffused. The focus now is clearly on optimal utilisation of products by converting successful commercial helicopters for military use. The other focus area concerns innovation by marketing a family of existing helicopters as a single weapon system.

Given this marketing credo, two key products showcased were lightweight military multi-role H145M helicopter derived from civil H145 that entered service in mid-2014 and has recently reached the milestone of 15,000 flying hours in customer operations. Another presentation was on the innovative creation of a new weapon systems called HForce which comprises three helicopters: the light weight utility H 125M, the medium weight armed scout light attack H 145M, and the heavy weight attack H 225H. The HForce is the unique example of a common weapons system being offered at an affordable and incremental upgrade path.

In addition to these two products, the TBM journalists were taken around the production line to show the composite shop, the civil and military helicopters, and the MRO activities where Airbus Helicopters completely supports the German air force helicopter fleet.

Designed as a true military multi-role helicopter, the H145M offers a single platform, which is able to perform day and night missions in harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain. Its large mission equipment range, depending on the customer configuration, increases mission flexibility for military operators. The helicopter’s Helionix digital avionics suite – incorporating the in-house developed 4-axis autopilot – is designed to reduce crew workload while providing high levels of safety and improved situational awareness. The H145M is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 2E equipped with full authority digital engine control (FADEC). Its low acoustic footprint makes the H145M the quietest helicopter in its class.

Production line of H145M
Production line of H145M

According to Mark Henning, who briefing the journalist on the H145M static display, the helicopter has proven its value for military customers for many years. For instance, the German Armed Forces, the launch customer for the H145M, have ordered 15 of these helicopters in a Special Forces configuration. With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 tonnes, the H145M can be used for a wide range of military operations including naval, utility, reconnaissance, search and rescue, medical evacuation and armed scout.

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