The Royal Thai Air Force has received two more H225M multi-role medium helicopters – its seventh and eighth, manufacturer Airbus Helicopters announced on October 24.
Since 2012, the RTAF has placed orders for a total of 12 H225Ms (previously known as EC725s) under its fleet modernisation programme. Belonging to a contract signed in 2016, these new additions will join the air force’s existing fleet of six H225Ms for combat search and rescue, search and rescue flights and troop transport missions. The Cougars will be equipped with emergency flotation gear, fast roping equipment, cargo sling, searchlight and electro-optical systems.
Airbus announced the latest order for four H225Ms in September this year. This follow-on order will bring the RTAF’s H225M fleet to 12 units by 2021.
This latest contract also covers on-site technical support and continuing airworthiness management organisation services, fully supported by Airbus’ Thailand team.
RTAF H225 background
Thailand’s deputy prime minister announced in August 2012 that cabinet approval had been granted for the purchase of an initial four Eurocopter EC725 Cougar helicopters, in SAR/CSAR configuration. This purchase, valued at €100m, was planned to enable the RTAF to begin replacing elderly Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopters fulfilling the SAR role. At this time it was understood that options on a further six Cougars had been discussed, with additional purchases anticipated at a later date, when funding permitted.
Subsequently, in September 2012, Eurocopter announced that a contract had been signed with the RTAF for the supply of the initial four EC725s, with deliveries scheduled for 2015. A further pair of Cougars was then added to the order, for delivery in 2017, and this new contract was made public in October 2014.
In February 2015 Airbus Helicopters announced that the first H225M (as the the type was now designated) for the RTAF had been handed over at its facilities in Marignane, France. Aircraft seven and eight were seen pre-delivery at Marignane in September this year.
The H225M entered RTAF service in May 2015 and is operated by 203 Squadron based at Lop Buri AB. See AirForces Intelligence for more details.