The German military is to receive the first of 15 H145M chopper (formerly EC645 T2) before the year-end, Airbus Helicopters reports on 15 May 2015. That’s the result of the type’s recent certification by the European EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) airworthiness authority. First deliveries for the second H145M customer, the Royal Thai Navy, will begin in 2016.
The H145M is to be the mode of transportation for Germany’s Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK), or special forces. The helo first flew in November last year and is based on Airbus Helicopters’ enhanced H145 civilian and parapublic rotorcraft (previously designated the EC145 T2). It has an increased maximum take-off weight of 3.7 metric tons, and can be equipped with mission equipment that includes a pintle-mounted door gun and the ability to carry weapons on external pylons; electro optical/infrared sensors with targeting capability; as well as military avionics for communications, navigation and flight management.
A rope-down system is available for special operations, and overall survivability is enhanced by the H145M’s crew ballistic protection, its self-sealing fuel tanks, and electronic warfare self-protection against missile threats.
“The H145M is tailored for a wide range of military operations – including transportation, reconnaissance, search and rescue, fire support and evacuations of wounded personnel. By using a civil certification for the H145M, we pursued a low-risk and low-cost approach for our customers, avoiding a costly and duplicative military qualification. This process also benefitted from the H145’s own civil certification last year, ensuring that the latest standards for safety and airworthiness are met”, said Manfred Merk, H145 Programme Director.
The German Special Forces’s (KSK) new EC645 T2 and its civilian version EC145 T2 have been cleared to fly by European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on 17 April 2014. The most powerful EC145 chopper ever is allowed to commence ops in the full range of advertised capabilities, including single-pilot operations, instrument flight rules (IFR) flying and single-engine operations, as well as flying by the aid of night vision goggles.
Despite its relatively small size, the EC645 / EC145 T2 can accommodate up to nine passengers plus a crew of two. The flat, level floor has been optimized for modular changes, meaning seats can be quickly changed for something else like stretchers and medical equipment.
Furthermore, the military version can have gun or missile pods attached on both sides of the fuselage – making the EC645 T2 worthy competition for the often used Hughes/McDonnell Douglas MD500/OH-6/AH-6/MH-6 Cayuse/Loach/Little Bird. The latter has much less room for troops or other passengers and misses another big advantage of the EC645: two big cargo/entry doors in the rear of the fuselage underneath the tail boom.
Compared to the earlier EC145 model the T2 features new Arriel 2E engines (with FADEC) and a Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, upgraded main and tail rotor gear boxes, a more advanced Helionix digital avionics suite that includes large full-colour multi-functional displays and a 4-axis autopilot. The Fenestron technology brings enhanced anti-torque control effeciency to the tail rotor, as well as reduced power demand in forward flight, lower noise and less vibration. The rotor is installed in a new, damage-tolerant all-composite tail boom: meaning in combat it can withstand a certain amount of bullets or shrapnel.
Airbus Helicopters already has approximately 20 EC145 T2s currently are in series production, with more than a 100 of the type ordered, including 15 for the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) as already reported in July 2013.