Airbus Helicopters has demonstrated the ability of its H145M helicopter to fire laser-guided rockets. Trials were conducted with the 70mm calibre Thales FZ275 LGR weapon at the Älvdalen test range in Sweden in early December last year. The range belongs to the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) flight test centre.
According to the manufacturer the system performed “flawlessly” in a “rough and challenging environment”.
During the trials the H145M crew used the L3 Wescam MX-15D electro-optical system with an embedded laser designator and achieved a deviation of less than a metre for all rockets fired at a distance of up to 4.5km.
“The laser-guided rockets from Thales performed incredibly well especially taking into consideration the weather conditions we experienced during the trials which were far from ideal with a lot of moisture in the air,” said Raymond Laporte, test pilot at Airbus Helicopters.
Final qualification of the ballistic HForce system on the H145M is scheduled for end of this year, while the laser-guided rockets are planned for qualification by the end of next year.
Airbus completed a previous firing campaign with the HForce-equipped H145M at Pápa air base in Hungary last year. Systems tested comprised FN Herstal HMP400 machine gun pods, Thales FZ231 unguided rockets and the Nexter NC621 cannon. These were utilised with the MX-15 and a Thales Scorpion helmet-mounted sight display.
The H145M completed a maiden flight with the HForce kit installed at Donauwörth, Bavaria at the end of August last year.
The following month, Jean-Luc André, HForce programme manager, said: “As the launch customer for the H145M with the HForce weapon system, the Republic of Serbia has ordered nine H145M aircraft, including four attack helicopters equipped with HForce.”
While six of the Serbian helicopters will be delivered for use by the Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo i Protivvazduhoplovna Odbrana (RV i PVO – Serbian Air Force and Air Defence), three will be delivered to the interior ministry for use by a helicopter unit at Nikola Tesla International Airport in Belgrade. The value of the contract, signed between Airbus and Serbia’s defence and interior ministries, has not been announced. Presumably, the four HForce-equipped aircraft will be part of the RV i PVO order.
As well as Serbia, other customers for the H145M include the German armed forces – which in June received their 15th H145M LUH SOF helicopter – as well as Thailand.
The HForce weapon system can also be installed on the H125M, H145M and H225M.