Hungary has placed an order for 16 H225M (earlier EC725 Caracal) medium multi-role helicopters from Airbus Helicopters as part of a wider modernization program (Zrinyi-2026). The helicopters are to be equipped with the HForce Generic Weapon Systems (GWS) developed by Airbus and introduced in 2016. The December 14 announcement by the Hungarian ministry of defense (MoD) states that the H225M helicopters will replace the current fleet of Mi-17/24 multi-purpose/attack/close-support aircraft in 2023.
Hungary recently started an overhaul program of its aging Mi-8/17/24 fleet, the backbone of its rotary-wing force. The 16 H225M helicopters will be equipped with the same HForce weapons-management configuration (option number 3, which provides the user with the largest choice of weapons) as the 20 H145Ms ordered six months ago, MoD sources told AIN. Price and delivery terms of the new H225Ms, as well as other details, have not been disclosed. Hungary is the first country in the region to order H225Ms.
At the same time, Hungary is to continue enlarging and modernizing its military transport/cargo aircraft fleet. Colonel-General (Rtd) Tibor Benkö, Hungary’s defense minister, announced in mid-December that the country has bought one more second-hand, multi-role Airbus A319 (joining the two already in service) and a second Dassault Falcon 7X light transport/communications/command center aircraft. It remains to be seen whether the second Falcon 7X will be equipped with the same secure satellite communications system as the first aircraft (side number 606), which is part of the Hungarian Air Force (HunAF) Teve Airlift Squadron. The system enables the aircraft to function as a mobile command and communications center. The minister confirmed that the Hungarian Defence Force (HDF) plans to acquire three more (medium) military transports equipped with a rear loading ramp.
With the new H225M acquisition, Hungary is to be the first NATO nation in central Eastern Europe to operate a modern, multi-function, rotary-wing strike force capable of executing transport, close-support and other missions such as search and rescue, based on two helicopter types (H145M and the heavier H225M). Airbus officials said that this solution is cost-effective, giving both rotary-aircraft systems a measure of compatibility, while at the same time simplifying servicing and repair, as well as pilot and ground crew training—not to mention improved efficiency when tackling varying tactical requirements. A training and servicing package is part of the deal.
Both platforms share the same mission management system developed by Airbus for a range of civil-derived military helicopters, as well as armament options. Centerpiece of the GWS is a general-purpose computer made by Rockwell Collins Deutschland. The Scorpion monocular helmet-mounted sight display (HMSD) made by Thales and an L3 Wescam electro-optic sensor are key components. Armament on both types of aircraft includes 20mm cannon, 50-caliber heavy machine gun pods (HMP), air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, and/or 68mm and 70mm guided or unguided rockets.
Hungary becomes the ninth country to order the H225M. The type is in service with Brazil, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand, and is on order for Kuwait and Singapore. Deliveries to date number 88, the most recent of which were the eighth and ninth aircraft for Thailand (from a current order total of 12). In early October the global fleet surpassed 100,000 flight hours.
Hungary’s H225M order came a day after Airbus Helicopters had secured an order for 13 H145s to replace the German army’s elderly Bell UH-1Ds in the search-and-rescue role.