Bell 412EPI. Photo courtesy of Bell
After five years of stagnation and program delays in key regions of the world, the global military and civil helicopter market is poised for a rebound, according to a recent analysis by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
Geopolitical tensions, the need to replace and upgrade older helicopters, emerging programs such as rotary unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and manned-unmanned teaming in military operations are factors that will drive the growth, the consultancy said.
"The market is still less than it was in the pre-2013 periods, which saw growth driven by a large number of development and procurement numbers in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere in the world," Scott Clark, Frost & Sullivan's global program director of aerospace, defense and security, wrote in an email.
Clark said that a number of new designs will boost the export market over the next decade, including the Airbus Helicopters H160M, the TAI T-625, the Chinese Z-10 and WZ-19 attack and Z-20 utility helicopters, the Airbus X6 and the Leonardo AW609 tiltrotor and AW249 attack helicopter programs.
The U.S. Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program will mostly be in the development phase over the next decade. FVL "may start to influence production around 2026/2027 in terms of low-rate initial production for the U.S., but the high run rate production will not be until 2030," Clark said.
Utility helicopters will capture the highest dollar amount at $50 billion from 2018 through 2026, followed by attack helicopters at $48 billion, maritime helicopters at $40 billion and transport helicopters at $25 billion, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Major programs affecting the market until 2027 include, on the utility side, FVL, the Polish MRH, Japanese Bell 412 EPI, Canadian Griffon upgrade, Romanian Airbus AS330 replacement and Indian IMRH program. For attack helicopters, significant dollar amounts will flow to the U.S. AH-64E Apache program and related Foreign Military Sales, the Polish Raven project, development of the Italian AW249, Turkish T129 replacement, FVL attack version and South Korea's future light combat helicopter, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Countries will renew their focus on helicopter anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, the consulting firm said, and major maritime programs will include the India MRH and MUH, and the replacement of Sea Kings, Lynx, SH-60s, Panthers and the U.S. Navy TH-57. Finally, on the transport side, major programs will include the German CH-53 replacement, Israeli CH-53 Ya'sur replacement, and U.S. V-22 tiltrotor, according to Frost & Sullivan.
UAS "will impact some of the roles of helicopters today in the battle space," Clark wrote in an email. "These new concepts will likely start to appear around the late 2020s and affect all segments except transport."