Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first batch of four EC725 helicopters to the Royal Thai Air Force, enhancing the country’s search-and-rescue as well as troop transport capabilities.

The new helicopters, delivered under a contract signed in 2012, are expected to be operational with the air force later this month.

Airbus Helicopters Sales and Customer Relations Asia Pacific vice-president Fabrice Rochereau said: "With Thailand’s investment in the modernisation of its aircraft inventory, the EC725s will become a formidable asset in the Royal Thai Air Force’s helicopter fleet."

Thailand also ordered two additional EC725s in 2014 and the delivery of these helicopters is scheduled next year.

A derivative of Eurocopter’s AS 532 Cougar, the EC725 is a long-range tactical transport helicopter designed for troop transport, casualty evacuation, CSAR, maritime surveillance, humanitarian support, medical evacuation and shipborne missions.

The helicopter is equipped with a modern digital cockpit, a four-axis autopilot, and a Fenestron shrouded tail rotor landings and takeoffs in confined landing sites and during loading / unloading on the ground while the rotor is turning.

Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia managing director Derek Sharples said: "We welcome the Royal Thai Air Force as a new Airbus Helicopters operator.

"They can count on our full resources to support the successful deployment of the aircraft, and proximity services from our Thailand-based customer centre."

The new Thai helicopters are customised for combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions, SAR flights, troop transport operations and other tasks.

Image: A new EC725s of Royal Thai Air Force. Photo: © Airbus Helicopters.