Mil­i­tary helicopters dom­i­nate mar­ket

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By R. Chan­drakanth ]

Mil­i­tary helicopters have played crit­i­cal roles in many a com­bat sit­u­a­tion world­wide. And when in 2011 the cel­e­brated US Navy SEALs team (ST6) un­der­took one of the most covert spe­cial op­er­a­tions mis­sion, to elim­i­nate ter­ror­ist Osama bin Laden, it was the ‘stealth' he­li­copter that gave the ST6 a de­ci­sive ad­van­tage. The Siko­rsky MH60 (K/M ver­sion) high­lighted ‘stealth' among other roles.

Helicopters have come a long way from the most com­mon use of mil­i­tary – trans­porta­tion of troops. They have been mod­i­fied or con­verted to per­form mis­sions such as com­bat search and res­cue (CSAR), air­borne com­mand post, at­tack, etc. Stealth com­bined with lethal­ity is at re­cent fea­ture, re­spond­ing to the var­ied needs of the mil­i­tary.

The mil­i­tary he­li­copter mar­ket is grow­ing rapidly and Frost & Sul­li­van pre­dicts that mil­i­tary will ac­count for more than 60 per cent of the global he­li­copter de­mand over the next 10 years (in terms of mar­ket value), gen­er­at­ing rev­enues of nearly $200 bil­lion, and cre­at­ing or­ders of nearly 9,000 plat­forms be­tween 2011 and 2020. This de­mand for mil­i­tary helicopters is driven not only by a de­sire to ob­tain new, mod­ern helicopters but mostly by the need to re­place/ up­grade a large global fleet of age­ing helicopters.

Global play­ers

The mil­i­tary he­li­copter in­dus­try is dom­i­nated by ma­jor Western Euro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Agus­taWest­land and Euro­copter group; the three large US com­pa­nies—Boe­ing, Bell He­li­copter and Siko­rsky Air­craft; and Rus­sian Helicopters. They fall in Tier-1 cat­e­gory of global play­ers. In the Tier-II cat­e­gory are re­gional play­ers with global as­pi­ra­tions and the com­pa­nies in­clude In­dia's Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Limited (HAL); China's Changhe Air­craft In­dus­tries; Korea Air­craft In­dus­tries (KAI); Kawasaki Heavy In­dus­tries; Mit­subishi Heavy In­dus­tries. In the Tier-III cat­e­gory, there are lo­cal play­ers such as Denel; Robin­son He­li­copter com­pany; En­strom He­li­copter Cor­po­ra­tion; Heli­bras; Sch­weizer Air­craft Cor­po­ra­tion; IAR Brasov and PZL Swid­nik, SA. Let us look at some of the top com­pa­nies and how they have panned out glob­ally.

Agus­taWest­land's lethal range

Agus­taWest­land is a whol­ly­owned sub­sidiary of Ital­ian con­glom­er­ate Fin­mec­ca­nica, pro­duc­ing a wide range of mil­i­tary and civil helicopters. In 2012, it re­ported rev­enues of Euro 4,243 mil­lion, an in­crease of Euro 328 mil­lion from the pre­vi­ous year. The key mil­i­tary he­li­copter prod­ucts from Agus­taWest­land in­clude Apache AH1; A129 Man­gusta; Chi­nook ICH-47F; AW101; NH90; and AW149.

The Apache AH1 is a li­censed ver­sion of the Boe­ing AH-64D Long­bow Apache at­tack he­li­copter pro­duced for the Bri­tish Army. The A129 Man­gusta is an at­tack he­li­copter used by the Ital­ian Army. An im­proved ver­sion called the T129 is be­ing de­vel­oped by the Turk­ish Aero­space In­dus­tries for the Turk­ish Army, along with rights to ex­port.

The Chi­nook ICH-47F is a li­censed ver­sion of the Boe­ing CH47F Chi­nook heavy-lift he­li­copter. The AW101 is a medium-lift 15 to 16-tonne class he­li­copter. The NH90 is a medium-lift 10-tonne class he­li­copter pro­duced as part of the NH In­dus­tries con­sor­tium; with mar­itime and troop trans­port ver­sions. And the AW149 which is un­der de­vel­op­ment is an 8-tonne class util­ity he­li­copter that can trans­port up to 12 troops along with two gun­ners and two pi­lots.

Euro­copter at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion

The Euro­copter group is a 100 per cent sub­sidiary of EADS. For over 50 years, Euro­copter has been at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion and its am­bi­tion is to launch a new he­li­copter, a new ver­sion or a tech­nol­ogy demon­stra­tor ev­ery year. Its 2012 rev­enues rose 15 per cent to EUR 6.3 bil­lion. Its or­der book (both mil­i­tary and civil) stood at EUR 5.4 bil­lion end 2012.

From its sta­ble are Fen­nec; AS532; Tiger; Cougar; Pan­ther; EC635 and EC645. The AS550 C3e Fen­nec is Euro­copter's 2-tonne class an­swer to armed forces re­quire­ments. It is said to be easy to op­er­ate in ex­treme and harsh con­di­tions; in­cred­i­bly ma­noeu­vrable and ag­ile, the Fen­nec is de­signed to per­form com­bat flight. The Fen-

nec is nat­u­rally stealth and nap of the earth in­creases its pro­tec­tion against mil­i­tary threat. The AS532 AL is a long ver­sion of the Cougar fam­ily. It can carry up to 25 com­bat-ready troops and can be equipped with pod-mounted can­nons, rocket-launch­ers or side fir­ing can­non. The AS565 MB is the naval ver­sion of the Pan­ther fam­ily of helicopters. This all-weather, multi-role light he­li­copter can be op­er­ated from ship decks or off­shore to cover a vast ar­ray of naval mis­sions such as mar­itime sur­veil­lance, search and res­cue, ver­ti­cal re­plen­ish­ment, off­shore pa­trolling and counter-ter­ror­ism. It is the ideal com­ple­men­tary as­set for anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare and anti-sur­face war­fare tasks. The EC645 T2 is a medium-sized mil­i­tary mul­ti­role he­li­copter, of­fer­ing great power, range, en­durance and pay­load ca­pac­ity, when op­er­at­ing at 6,000 feet al­ti­tude. The ver­sa­tile EC645 T2 is based on the rugged­ness, low op­er­at­ing cost and high mis­sion re­li­a­bil­ity of the cer­ti­fied EC145. As far as the EC635, its strengths are stealth and no-hear dis­tance, a cru­cial as­pect for sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance op­er­a­tions.

Siko­rsky helicopters ac­tive in com­bat and peace times

Siko­rsky Air­craft Corp. is a United Tech­nolo­gies Corp com­pany and a world leader in he­li­copter de­sign, man­u­fac­ture and ser­vice, of­fer­ing a broad range of de­fence so­lu­tions in com­bat and peace times.

The prod­ucts are the famed Black Hawk; Sea­Hawk; H-92; CH-53 and light tur­bine helicopters. The Black Hawk is a proven he­li­copter in var­i­ous mis­sions across the world. The Sea­Hawk, on the other hand, is a so­phis­ti­cated, high in­te­grated air­craft for anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare, search and res­cue and nu­mer­ous other mar­itime he­li­copter mis­sions. The H-92 he­li­copter is based on the proven Black Hawk tech­nol­ogy. The Su­per­Hawk of­fers even greater space and per­for­mance for max­i­mum mis­sion flex­i­bil­ity. The CH-53; light tur­bine; PZL Mi­elec and H-30 are ver­sa­tile helicopters, ad­dress­ing var­i­ous needs of the mil­i­tary.

Boe­ing chop­pers for strike, mo­bil­ity and re­con­nais­sance

Aero­space and de­fence ma­jor, Boe­ing has prod­ucts for strike, mo­bil­ity and re­con­nais­sance. The AH-64D Long­bow is a multi-mis­sion next-gen­er­a­tion air­craft. With its fire con­trol radar, the air­craft is known as the AH-64D Apache. With­out the radar, the com­bat proven air­craft is called the AH-64D Apache. The AH-64 Apache has been de­vel­oped since its in­cep­tion us­ing in­cre­men­tal tech­nol­ogy in­ser­tions at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals to en­sure that the world has the most ca­pa­ble multi-role com­bat he­li­copter that meets the needs of the warfighter to­day and in the fu­ture.

In terms of mo­bil­ity, Boe­ing's Chi­nook is a multi-mis­sion, heavylift trans­port he­li­copter. Its pri­mary mis­sion is to move troops, ar­tillery, am­mu­ni­tion, fuel, wa­ter, bar­rier ma­te­ri­als, sup­plies and equip­ment on the bat­tle­field. Its sec­ondary mis­sions in­clude med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion, disas­ter re­lief, search and res­cue, air­craft re­cov­ery, fire­fight­ing, para­chute drops, heavy con­struc­tion and civil de­vel­op­ment. The Chi­nooks op­er­ated in the Gulf War, and they con­tinue to be the stan­dard for the US Army in the global cam­paign against ter­ror­ism.

The Bell Boe­ing V-22 Osprey is the first air­craft de­signed from the ground up to meet the needs of the De­fence Depart­ment's four US

armed ser­vices. The til­tro­tor air­craft takes off and lands like a he­li­copter. Once air­borne, its engine na­celles can be ro­tated to con­vert the air­craft to a tur­bo­prop air­plane ca­pa­ble of high-speed, high-al­ti­tude flight.

Rus­sian Helicopters steady growth

Rus­sian Helicopters is the sole Rus­sian ro­tor­craft de­signer and man­u­fac­turer and one of the few com­pa­nies world­wide with the ca­pa­bil­ity to de­sign, man­u­fac­ture, ser­vice and test mod­ern civil­ian and mil­i­tary helicopters. Al­though Rus­sian Helicopters was es­tab­lished only in 2007, some of its key en­ter­prises date back more than 60 years. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany data, there are over 8,500 Rus­sian Helicopters (both mil­i­tary and civil) cur­rently op­er­ated in over 100 coun­tries around the world, rep­re­sent­ing 14 per cent of the global he­li­copter fleet.

Rus­sian Helicopters en­ter­prises pro­duced around 35 per cent of global com­bat he­li­copter fleet and nearly 17 per cent of the ul­tra­heavy he­li­copter fleet world­wide, as well as 56 per cent of global he­li­copter fleet with MTOW from 8 to 15 tonnes.

Some of the key mil­i­tary prod­ucts are the Ka-226T, a light mul­ti­mis­sion he­li­copter, de­signed for op­er­a­tion in hard-to-reach high con­di­tions, warm cli­mate and over-sea, re­con­nais­sance, tar­get­ing and mon­i­tor­ing, cargo trans­porta­tion (up to 1,500 kg), trans­porta­tion of seven troop­ers. The Ka-31 is a radar sur­veil­lance he­li­copter de­signed for pro­tec­tion of warship units op­er­at­ing be­yond coastal radars and ERW (early radar warn­ing) air­craft cov­er­age against air strikes. The Mi-26, the world's best line pro­duc­tion he­li­copter in terms of load ca­pac­ity, is un­ri­valled in cost­per­for­mance pa­ram­e­ters. The Mi-26 are trans­porta­tion of troops and equip­ment, in­clud­ing over­size equip­ment. The Mi-26 is ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing up to 82 full armed troop­ers or up to 20 tonnes of cargo in­side the fuse­lage or on ex­ter­nal sling. The An­sat-U is the light train­ing he­li­copter which is de­signed for ef­fec­tive train­ing of mil­i­tary pi­lots and spe­cial au­thor­ity pi­lots.

HAL's global as­pi­ra­tions

HAL'S in­volve­ment with ro­tary­winged air­craft dates back to June 1962 when, to meet the In­dian Air Force's re­quire­ment for light helicopters, the Govern­ment of In­dia signed a li­cence agree­ment with Sud-Avi­a­tion (presently Euro­copter, France). The first he­li­copter type to be built at HAL Ban­ga­lore was the Alou­ette ill, later named Chetak, a multi-role, seven-seater he­li­copter. Armed with mis­siles and tor­pe­does, it also caters to the ex­act­ing re­quire­ment of anti-sub­ma­rine and anti-tank war­fare. The Chee­tah is a light­weight high per­for­mance he­li­copter and ex­cels in ob­ser­va­tion, sur­veil­lance, lo­gis­tics sup­port and res­cue op­er­a­tions. The Lancer is a light-at­tack he­li­copter and is cost-ef­fec­tive air­mo­bile area weapon sys­tem, op­ti­mised for anti-in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions, close air sup­port, sup­pres­sion of en­emy fire, at­tack on ve­hic­u­lar con­voys, de­struc­tion of en­emy ma­chine gun po­si­tions and anti-ar­mour ap­pli­ca­tions.

With a proven track record and es­tab­lished tech­nol­ogy for man­u­fac­ture of helicopters and its com­po­nents, HAL com­menced se­ries pro­duc­tion of Dhruv (ad­vanced light he­li­copter) in 2000-01. The ALH is a multi-role, multi-mis­sion he­li­copter in 5.5-tonne class, fully de­signed and de­vel­oped by HAL. Built to FAR 29 spec­i­fi­ca­tions, Dhruv is de­signed to meet the re­quire­ments of both mil­i­tary and civil op­er­a­tors glob­ally.

There is in­tense com­pe­ti­tion in the mil­i­tary mar­ket with US and Euro­pean com­pa­nies bat­tling out with Rus­sian and even some re­gional play­ers. The growth and ex­pan­sion strate­gies of global com­pa­nies are get­ting more pro­nounced, of late, with build­ing of lo­cal and re­gional hubs, and part­ner­ships with lo­cal ser­vice com­pa­nies.

AW101 he­li­copter

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