Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Highlights

by Matthew Beres, Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Analyst, Forecast International.

This blog post briefly highlights Airborne Retrofit & Modernization news from the past week. More in-depth news can be found in Forecast’s E-Market Alert. To the minute R&M news can also be found via the Forecast R&M twitter account, @MBeresFI.

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Thailand-Russia Relations Warm as Defense Industrial Collaboration Agreement Nears Finalization

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Mi-8MTV-5 (export variant: Mi-17V-5) is a medium-lift military helicopter. Photo – Russian Нelicopters, JSC.

Ties between Russia and Thailand appear to be heating up on the defense front following a meeting in Bangkok on January 16 between Russian defense officials and military leadership of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. According to reports, the meeting involved discussions of a potential government-to-government accord aimed at military-technical cooperation. The agreement outline in question would extend Thailand partnership status on a jointly run production and maintenance facility for the Mil Mi-17V-5 transport helicopter export variant. Continue reading

Safran Helicopter Engines Hovers Above the Turboshaft Pack

by Carter Palmer, Power Systems Specialist, Forecast International.

Assembly work at Safran Helicopter Engines ~ (c) Cyril Abad / CAPA Pictures / Safran

Helicopters – Unequalled maneuverability; life-saving capability; powerful and indispensable. The helicopter’s value is undisputed and its utility second to none.  Companies  like Cierva, Breguet, and Sikorski did the pioneering work that resulted in the helicopters we now depend on. Today, the V-22 and AW609 are revolutionizing the field with their tilt-rotor technology, while utilizing capabilities that would astound those early developers. Continue reading

World Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft Market on the Decline

By Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

Bell Boeing V-22

Bell Boeing V-22

Forecast International expects that 4,791 medium/heavy military rotorcraft will be produced from 2016 through 2025.  The value of this production, as calculated in constant FY16 U.S. dollars, is $115.7 billion.

Through most of the 10-year forecast period, the market will experience declining annual production.  Yearly production is expected to decline nearly steadily from 578 units in 2016 to 410 units in 2025.  Annual production value during this timeframe is expected to follow a somewhat similar trend.  Annual value is projected to decrease from $14.1 billion in 2016 to $10.4 billion in 2025, with this decline interrupted only by a brief two-year period of growth in 2022-2023. Continue reading

Changes in Competitive Landscape Mark Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft Market

By Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

V-280. Source - Bell Helicopter

V-280. Source – Bell Helicopter

In its latest study on the medium/heavy military rotorcraft market, Forecast International is projecting that 4,744 such rotorcraft will be produced from 2016 through 2025.  The value of this production is estimated at $115 billion in constant 2016 U.S. dollars.  In general, we define a medium/heavy military rotorcraft as one having a gross weight of 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb) or greater.

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Hungary Swims against NATO Tide, Seeks Russian Helicopters

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter.

Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter.

As tensions between Moscow and the West persist nearly two years after Moscow’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, the trend among Eastern European nations that are members of the NATO Alliance has been to move away from Russian-sourced military hardware. Most of these former Warsaw Pact states are seeking to retire their aging and obsolete Soviet-vintage equipment and replace such materiel with NATO-standard, Western-produced hardware. Continue reading

Finmeccanica’s Reorganization Continues Apace

by Richard Pettibone, Aerospace & Defense Companies Analyst, Forecast International.

Alenia Aermacchi M-346

Alenia Aermacchi M-346

Finmeccanica’s restructuring is beginning to pick up steam. In late 2014, the company initiated a landmark restructuring that will streamline operations, reduce redundancies, and possibly lead to the sale of some non-core assets. Continue reading

Sikorsky Will Be Just Fine On Its Own

Sikorsky

by Raymond Jaworowski, Forecast International.

The long-term business potential of Sikorsky Aircraft is bright, despite the fact that parent firm United Technologies Corp (UTC) is reviewing the possibility of selling Sikorsky or spinning it off into an independent firm. As reasons for a possible divestiture, UTC management has cited uncertainties regarding the military helicopter market as well as Sikorsky’s lower profit margins compared to other UTC units.

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Airbus Helicopters Unveils H160; Rebrands Product Line

by Raymond Jaworowski, Forecast International.

Airbus Helicopters unveiled the new H160 civil medium twin helicopter in early March at the Heli-Expo show in Orlando, Florida.  Previously known as the X4, the H160 is intended to replace the Dauphin series in the company’s product line.

Airbus Helicopters H160

Airbus Helicopters H160

The H160 will be powered by a pair of 1,100-shp Turbomeca Arrano engines.  Maximum takeoff weight will be in the 5.5-6.0-metric-ton range.  Other features of the new helicopter will include a composite airframe, Blue Edge composite rotor blades, the Helionix avionics suite, electrically actuated landing gear, a biplane stabilizer, and a canted Fenestron.

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HAL Continues Its Slow Push Toward Self-Sufficiency

by Richard Pettibone, Forecast International

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is the dominant aerospace contractor in India, as well as one of Asia’s largest aerospace companies.  Employing more than 34,450 technicians, engineers, and scientists, HAL produced the first military aircraft in South Asia (the HF-24 Marut), and today is involved in the design, development, and production of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and engines.

Dhruv Helicopter

Dhruv Helicopter

HAL’s principal indigenous projects have been the Dhruv advanced light helicopter and the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA).  HAL also performs licensed assembly for a variety of foreign platforms via cooperative arrangements with suppliers such as Airbus, Boeing, RAC MiG, Sukhoi, and Dassault.

While the firm is one of South Asia’s largest, it is also one of the slowest aviation firms in terms of bringing products to market.  Several programs, such as the Tejas LCA and HJT-36 trainer, have been glacial in their development.  The problem is so bad that the Indian Air Force turned abroad to meet its trainer needs with aircraft from Pilatus and BAE Systems.  Despite the slow progress, India is committed to producing these systems, eventually.

Tejas LCA

Tejas LCA

With India seeking to modernize its forces and its industry, HAL is at the center of several major procurements with international partners.  The firm currently is charged with local oversight of key defense projects such as the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), and Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA).

India’s FGFA project is a collaborative effort between Russia’s Sukhoi and HAL.  The aircraft is based on Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK FA design, and India is looking to acquire 144 units, down from its original goal of 214.  Though India bears 50 percent of the development costs, it currently has a smaller work share.  Development costs on the project are expected to reach $12-$13 billion, which will be split between India and Russia.  The first of three prototypes was to have been rolled out in 2014, but will likely arrive a year late.

Dassault Rafale Selected for MMRCA

Dassault Rafale Selected for MMRCA

For the MMRCA program, India chose the Dassault Rafale in 2012.  However, the program has been delayed by extensive contract negotiations.  Dassault will supply 18 of the 126 aircraft to the IAF from its facilities in France; the remaining aircraft will be produced at HAL facilities in Bangalore.  As of December 2014, the $15 billion deal had yet to be closed. Delays in finalizing the order are attributed to cost and work-sharing issues, as well as elections in India.  Officials hope to complete negotiations by mid-2015.

Multirole Transport Aircraft

Multirole Transport Aircraft

Another India-Russia collaboration is the Multirole Transport Aircraft.  In 2012, HAL signed a contract with United Aircraft Corp, the corporate holding company of Russian fixed-wing-aircraft manufacturers, confirming HAL’s role in the MTA program.  HAL will build the prototype aircraft and produce aircraft in India.  Russia has promised to transfer necessary technology.  The MTA will replace India’s Antonov An-32 transport aircraft. In December 2012, UAC announced a revised schedule, with the MTA expected to perform its maiden flight in 2017. Serial production will follow in 2019. For the moment this program is moving ahead, though if history is any indicator, delays can be expected.

HAL’s growing pains are all part of India’s strategy of becoming self-sufficient in indigenous military production.  As such, support for these programs – delays and all – will be tolerated.  However, with an IPO of a small stake scheduled, the days of this liberality may be numbered once shareholders have a say.