The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has ordered two additional H225M Caracal multirole utility helicopters as part of the continuation of its fleet strengthening programme agreement launched in 2012. Delivery of the two additional choppers is scheduled for 2019.
These nwely ordered helicopters will join an existing fleet of four identical helicopters to perform similar missions. Two H225Ms that were booked in 2014 will also be delivered by the end of this year. Upon signing this latest contract, the RTAF may also consider to further expand its fleet of H225Ms.
The RTAF’s helicopters are specially equipped with fast roping, cargo sling, search light and electro-optical systems (EOS) to perform combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions, search and rescue (SAR) flights, troop transport operations and other tasks.
The Japan Coast Guard has ordered yet another Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma. It will be added in 2018 to the fleet of five rotary craft of the same type, a statement of Airbus Helicopters reads.
The new JCG H225 will be mainly used for search and rescue plus security missions, and will get the mission equipment to perform these tasks. Secondary, it may be tasked with guard and surveillance duties, and will fly disaster respond missions.
Twenty-four Super Pumas
When flying just passengers, the H225 can accommodate 19 people plus crew. More than 180 H225s are operating in 22 countries and have logged nearly 500,000 hours of flight time, according to Airbus Helicopters. Twenty-four of those Super Pumas fly with Japanese authorities and parapublic operators.
UPDATED 27 January | Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic all are on the verge of replacing their fleets of Mil Mi-8/17 transport helicopters as well as Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters. Although each country seems to be heading down a different path, Bell Helicopter offers potentials for a joint program.
Update: according to Poland’s deputy defense minister on 26 January, a deal for Caracal helicopters now looks ‘very unlikely’.
In Poland, a multirole rotorcraft tender was won last year by Airbus Helicopters’ H225 Caracal, but after a change of government negotiations regarding offset investments are still ongoing. A spokesperson at Airbus Helicopters on Friday stated that ‘things seems to be moving in the right direction again’.
In the neighbouring Czech Republic, the air force flies 16 quite modern transport Mil Mi-171Sh helos, acquired from Russia in 2005 and recently upgraded with new communication, navigation and electrooptical equipment. The Czechs expect their Mi-171s to be used for at least one more decade, after which new helos will take their place as well as the place of current Mi-24 attack choppers. The new helicopters must be able to carry six to eight soldiers and be fitted out with guns plus guided and unguided rockets.
Previous plans of buying 12 machines are now revised in favour of a larger batch of 30-35 helicopters, due to better funding available in short term. Last year Czech MoD issued an request for information (RFI) to manufacturers of medium multirole helicopters; all Western producers responded with offers. Italian AgustaWestland offered the AW139, while Bell Helicopters is offering a tandem of its UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper used by the United States Marines Corps (USMC). Airbus Helicopters will most probably offer the Caracal just like it did in Poland, or the nine ton AS532ALe Cougar.
A preselection of preferred candidates is expected during the first half of 2016, with first deliveries planned a year or two later. Taking into account the strong presence of Bell Helicopters on the Czech civil rotorcraft market and police aviation using five Bell 412 helicopters, the UH-1Y is seen as strong contender. Bell in its offer underscores the possibility of establishing a joint Czech-Polish maintenance and training center if Poland also selects the Viper as a future attack chopper.
As for industrial offset, there’s rather small chance of licence production of selected type in Czech Republic, but some overhaul capabilities may be handed over to Czech industry. AgustaWestland has already signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with LOM Praha for maintenance support, provided AW139 is selected.
On Wednesday 16 September, Airbus Helicopters officially handed over the first H225 helicopter for the Argentine Coast Guard. According to Argentinian authorities, the new chopper offers increased effectiveness when it comes to saving lives at sea.
The delivery of the Argentine H225, which will be based in the city of Mar del Plata and used for search and rescue missions in the Argentinian sea, marks the start of the renewal process for the Coast Guard’s fleet of SA330 Puma helicopters. The H225 is capable of transporting up to 21 passenger – 2 more than competitors of a similar size – while flying as far as 650 nautical miles on a tank of fuel, a range that’s 223 miles farther than other similarly sized rotorcraft.