Airbus offers H145M for special forces light helo

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 19, 2019
The H145M is a development of the H145/EC145/BK117 commercial helicopter. (Airbus)
The H145M is a development of the H145/EC145/BK117 commercial helicopter. (Airbus)

Airbus Australia Pacific has confirmed it has responded to the Commonwealth’s request for information (RFI) for Army’s Project LAND 2097 Phase 4 light deployable special forces support helicopter with its H145M.

Under the project, the Army requires at least 16 helicopters for urban special forces operations and that can be deployed rapidly via Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17A transports. The new helicopter will complement the larger machines currently operated by the Army’s 6 Aviation Regiment (6Avn) at Holsworthy in Sydney, which is currently transitioning from the S-70A-9 Black Hawk to the Airbus MRH90 Taipan.

The new helicopter’s primary mission will be to support small-team air assault by special forces, but will have the ability to be rapidly reconfigured for utility, ISR, and fire-support roles. It is envisaged there will be four troops of the light helicopters, each with four helicopters.

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“The Airbus H145M helicopter is the military version of the H145 – the most advanced member of Airbus’ multi-purpose twin-engine category,” Airbus Australia Pacific managing director Andrew Mathewson said in a statement. “It is based on a commercial off-the-shelf platform with military-specific modifications and is an operationally proven, affordable and low-risk option for Australia.”

“The Airbus Australia Pacific response included selected industry partners and the provision of training, maintenance, logistics and engineering activities. A comprehensive transfer of technology and skills will make Airbus Australia Pacific a regional centre able to proactively support Australian operational needs, and export this knowledge back into the wider H145M community.”

Mathewson started as Airbus Australia Pacific managing director in January 2019. Previously, he was the head of helicopter systems division at the Department of Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG).

Last July, Airbus revealed it had modelled the ability to fit four H145M helicopters in a C-17 cargo hold and to be able to unload them to be ready to fly within 30 minutes of landing at a deployed location, but declined to say which customer it was modelling it for.

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The H145 was formerly designated EC145 which itself was a development of the Kawasaki/MBB BK117 helicopter. The machine has been continuously improved over the years, most notably with the addition of a redesigned forward cab, advanced Helionix avionics, more powerful engines and dynamic components, and a shrouded fenestron tail rotor.

Other possible responses to the four-tonne LAND 2097 Phase 4 requirement are expected to include Boeing with its AH-6i Little Bird, Bell/BAE Systems with the Bell 407GX/GT or the larger Bell 429, and possibly Leonardo with its A119.

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11 Comments

  • Allan

    says:

    I say go the little birds, Does the government really want the headaches we had with the Tiger and NH 90 again. The AH 6 is a proven capability for this role.

    • Bob

      says:

      Sure if you want a little Bird. But you’re assuming SOCOM do….

      The RFI indicates otherwise which can clearly be seen by what is being offered by Bell and Airbus

  • Corey

    says:

    Like the H145M but I hope they offer it with the new 5 blade rotor. Think it’s the best option out there overall.

  • Scott

    says:

    For the love of god, ADF do no go for one of these lightly built commercial derivatives, aquire a dozen apache helicopters and get what you need, purpose military attack helicopters. Transfer Tigers for this purpose.

  • Mick C

    says:

    Scott please do some Homework, this is not the Tiger replacement. That happens middle of next decade. This will be a lightly Armed Light Utility Helicopter for operating with the Special Forces, the main role will be to put a 4 man SF team on the ground, how do you propose a 2 Seat Attack Helicopter is able to achieve that? The Armament will be for supporting that team, not doing Battlefield Recce or Anti Armour Missions.
    The Army badly needs a lt Utility Chopper to replace the capability lost when the Tigers replaced the Kiowa.

  • Derrick

    says:

    Honestly, I think they will go with the Airbus. Mostly because we’re already flying the Airbus EC-135. And the transition will be easier for the pilots to go from the 135 to the 145

  • PAUL

    says:

    AH6 ? why not MD540F which is the real Littlebird..

  • Evil Twin

    says:

    Honestly after the collective debacles of the H135, the Tiger and the MRH 90 in Australian military purchases they would be stark staring mad to buy the H145M, that pretty well guarantees that it’s going to happen. As much as I love the AS350/H125 which are fabulous machines, most of the other helicopters that Airbus makes are complete turkeys, especially the comical H135 (which I fly most work days). American made helicopters are proven to be much more resilient to a combat environment and are nowhere near as fragile as their european made counterparts.

  • Bad Badger

    says:

    The 135 is an appalling aircraft that’s only really any good at going fast in a straight line. As much as I like the 125/350 the airbus helicopter range are just too flimsy for combat work. You have to give it to the Americans, they know how to build a reliable, robust helicopter. As much as the 145 is the wrong choice you can pretty well guarantee that it will be the one they order. If you have any kind of business, the best thing you could do is employ the airbus sales rep, he’s worth his weight in gold

  • Westleigh Bushell

    says:

    Westlands AW159 would be perfect for this!

  • Matt

    says:

    AH6 is a 2t (4 passenger) A/C and the H145 is a 4t (6 passenger) Not even in the same class…
    Plus, SF crews are typically operate in numbers of 5. th AH6 makes no sense.
    H145m (military variant) is the best option.

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