Airbus Helicopters Describes Export Prospects

 - January 28, 2015, 11:34 AM
Airbus is hoping that 2015 will be The Year of the Tiger in export markets. (photo: Chris Pocock)

Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury predicted that 2015 is the year a number of military export sales campaigns will be resolved. The company’s target is to win “two or three” of them, Faury told a media briefing in Paris this week. Top of the list is Poland's need for 70 multirole and 30 attack rotorcraft, which Faury described as a “strategic opportunity.” Airbus is bidding for the former with the EC725 Caracal. However, the Polish need for attack aircraft, for which the Tiger will be a candidate, has not yet been translated into a formal tender.

 For the Tiger, the other three ongoing sales opportunities involve Malaysia, Brazil and Mexico, for a total 50 helicopters (including Poland), according to Dominique Maudet, Airbus Helicopters' executive vp for global business and services. Meanwhile, the French order for 80 Tigers has been reduced to 60, though the monetary value remains the same, according to Maudet. The initial contract was for 40 Tiger HAPs (the support and escort version) and 40 Tiger HADs (the support and destruction version). Under the new terms, the 39 in-service Tiger HAPs will be retrofitted to the more expensive HAD standard. The other 21 will be new HADs—deliveries have begun.

The Hellfire antitank missile has been qualified for the Tigers of the French Army and its Australian counterpart. Meanwhile, for the same mission, Spain and Germany have qualified the Rafael Spike and the Parsys PAR 3, respectively. France and Spain have elected to equip their Tigers with MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles, while Germany and Australia have picked the Raytheon-designed Stinger.

On the NH90 program, discussions are progressing with Qatar, which last year announced a requirement for 22—a 50-50 mix of land and naval versions. The current phase of negotiations focuses on finance, after a more technical phase. Spain has reduced its original order to 22 from 45. But a support agreement makes up for the missing revenue, Maudet explained. Portugal canceled its entire order of 10 NH90s last year. Maudet admitted some corrosion issues have still to be fixed and the maintenance burden should be alleviated. The NH Industries joint venture also involves AgustaWestland and Fokker Aerostructures.