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Airbus Helicopters discussing H145M/C-17 combo with undisclosed prospective customer, likely Australia

30 July 2018
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Australia is looking for a SOF helicopter that can be transported aboard its C-17 Globemaster III airlifters and made ready for operations in less than 30 minutes. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

Airbus Helicopters is discussing with a potential customer a requirement to airlift some of the company’s H145M battlefield support helicopters aboard a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft for rapid forward deployment.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a live-fire demonstration of its H145M HForce helicopter and weapons system in Hungary on 27 July, a senior programme official said the requirement is for four helicopters to be flown to an area aboard a C-17, before being made ready for operations in less than 30 minutes.

While the head of H145M marketing, Christian Fachini, declined to identify the prospective customer, Australia is known to have such a requirement for its special operations forces (SOF). Indeed, Australia is one of a number of countries that is currently being demonstrated the H145M HForce at the Bakony Combat Training Center (BCTC) in Hungary.

Australia’s requirement for a SOF helicopter came to light in the country’s Defence Integrated Investment Programme (DIIP), which was published in 2016. As noted in the DIIP, the new fleet of deployable light reconnaissance and attack helicopters to provide air-mobility support for SOF missions is due to be fielded from about 2025. As previously reported by Jane’s , the helicopters will be able to be deployed rapidly by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 as a small force element of three-to-four aircraft and personnel. The programme timeframe was listed as 2025–28, with a budget range of AUD2–3 billion (USD1.5–2.3 billion). Besides Airbus Helicopters and its H145M, Jane’s has previously been told Bell is offering its UH-1Y Venom and NorthStar Aviation is offering its 407 MultiRole Helicopter (MRH) as potential SOF solutions.

In terms of potentially selling the H145M to Australia, Airbus Helicopters hopes to build on sales already secured with Germany (15), Hungary (20), Luxembourg (2), Serbia (9), and Thailand (5).

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