Eurocopter To Focus On Its Helicopter Capabilities At IDEX 2011


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Eurocopter To Focus On Its Helicopter Capabilities At IDEX 2011

By Bill Goldston

February 22, 2011 - Eurocopter’s commitment to meeting the operational requirements of governments and armed forces and civil operators in the Arab world with its broad helicopter product line will be highlighted at next week’s International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi. 

More than 650 Eurocopter helicopters currently are flying in across the Middle East and through the Arabian Gulf, with over than 80 percent of them in military use to support missions that include combat, transport, search and rescue (SAR), counter-terrorism, special operations and training. 

New business opportunities for Eurocopter include the evolving needs in air coverage for security, border patrol missions and support missions; the expanded civilian operations resulting from an opening of airspace that had been reserved for the military in numerous countries; and the overall renewal of aging rotary-wing aircraft fleets. 

“With a strong footprint in the region, we continue to see a demand for our helicopters across a full spectrum of military and civilian use,” said Xavier Hay, Eurocopter's Vice President for Middle East and Africa. “Equipped with the latest technology, they are able to perform their missions in the most severe operational environments and challenging situations.” 

One area of development foreseen by Eurocopter is in corporate airlift and oil & gas transportation, especially with the relaxation of airspace regulations for such civilian flight activity in many Middle East and Gulf countries. Eurocopter’s EC135 and EC145, which are market leading helicopters in their segments around the world, and are strong candidates for new orders in the region, along with the new-generation EC175 – which has entered production and will be certified late this year.

Police and law enforcement agencies are prime Eurocopter customers in a large number of Gulf countries. A complete range of Eurocopter light twin helicopters from two to four tons – incorporating the AS355, BK117, EC135, EC145 and Dauphin N3 – already are protecting the population in the Arab world. 

To meet the Arab world’s requirements for highly-capable multi-role military helicopters, Eurocopter’s Fennec AS550 is a proven aircraft suited for extremely hot climates and high altitudes. Applications include combat missions, fire support, observation, protection and training. More than 4,850 helicopters from the Ecureuil/Fennec family in single-engine and twin-engine variants have been delivered to over 90 countries, which include such customers as the United Arab Emirates’ armed forces.


Eurocopter’s EC635 lightweight twin-engine helicopter is being fielded in growing numbers across the Arab world, building on its current operations with the Royal Jordanian Air Force. It offers the combination of a compact helicopter with performance and maneuverability for use in scout, anti-piracy and public security missions. 

The EC645 also is well tailored for the region’s security and defense needs, providing excellent performance, a spacious cabin and proven reliability. This twin-engine rotary-wing aircraft – which is an armed derivative of Eurocopter EC145, in service many operators around the world, including the U.S. Army – answers the increasing demand by armed forces for a multi-role helicopter that can accommodate a large range of mission equipment, including the Stand Alone Weapon System (SAWS) developed by Eurocopter and ATE. 

SAWS incorporates a mission computer, an electro-optical system with TV, infrared cameras and laser telemeter (with laser designator as needed), a targeting system with a helmet-mounted sight and display, two multi-purpose weapon pylons with slaving units, and a choice of guns, missiles and unguided or guided rockets as weapons loads. 

The AS565 Panther combines speed and maneuverability required for security and defense missions, with its capabilities further enhanced by this twin-engine helicopter’s endurance, range and unmatched capabilities in overwater surveillance, tracking and search & rescue – which have been proven in Middle East operations for the protection of coastlines and surveillance of offshore economic zones with countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. 

For the heavy helicopter segment, Eurocopter has a long history in the Middle East and Gulf with a large Puma and Super Puma/Cougar fleet that counts more than 140 helicopters in Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Pakistan and other nations. The latest-generation member of the Super Puma/Cougar family is the EC725, which is well suited to meet new mission requirements and fleet modernization with an expanded mission scope – including combat search & rescue, long-distance tactical transport, medical evacuation and logistics support, with these capabilities demonstrated in extreme combat conditions. The EC225 utility/escort and VVIP version already is flying in the Arab world. 


For the tactical transport of troops and anti-submarine warfare, the 10-metric-ton-class NH90 is an ideal choice. As a fly-by-wire, all-composite helicopter with high crash-worthiness standards, it is offered in an army version (TTH) and for naval operations in the NFH configuration. To date, 529 NH90s have been ordered, with the Sultanate of Oman being the first Middle East customer. 

Eurocopter also remains active in providing the best support to its customers, and was recently awarded the overhaul of several Puma and Super Puma military fleets in the Arab world. Eurocopter has a maintenance centre in the United Arab Emirates with long-standing partner Falcon Aviation Services (FAS), through an operating agreement that was renewed last month. This centre provides full maintenance and revision services, reinforcing the company’s customer support network in the region and supplementing Eurocopter’s platform in Abu Dhabi.

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