Maritime security is an increasingly important requirement for most nations with a coastline. The need to protect and secure trade routes has grown in recent years, as has security for offshore oil and gas installations. Fishery patrol, pollution control and search-and-rescue (SAR) remain as important as ever. However, while many nations need to either acquire a maritime surveillance capability or increase an existing one, they may not be able to afford the high price of traditional maritime patrollers.
In May, Eurocopter’s proof-of-concept compound, the X3, reached 232 ktas, a speed it sustained during five minutes at 8,500 feet. It also demonstrated a rate of climb greater than 5,000 fpm. The crew flew pitch-up attitudes in the 30- to 50-degree range. Roll angles were taken to 80 degrees of bank.