Airbus Helicopters has conducted a first round of firing tests with HForce, a weapon system under development for the company's range of civil-derived military helicopters.
Designed to meet light attack mission capabilities, HForce features a central core unit, Thales's Scorpion monocular helmet-mounted sight display (HMSD), an electro-optical system (EOS) from Wescam as well as gunner armament weapon grips and weapon pods.
The tests involving an HForce-equipped H225M helicopter were conducted between 25 May and 3 June.
The firing campaign validated the performance of HForce with ballistic weapons, including 12.7mm guns, 70mm rockets and 20mm cannons.
Airbus Helicopters HForce programme manager Jean-Luc André said: "This important milestone, achieved on time, demonstrates that HForce achieves excellent results above specifications, and that it provides a real added value in terms of target tracking and acquisition for day or night missions, thanks to the EOS and HMSD."
The plug-and-play weapon system, which has been undergoing testing for the past five months, can be fitted onto any military version of Airbus Helicopters commercial range such as H125M, H145M and H225M.
The development of HForce is scheduled for completion by 2017.
Meanwhile, a Chinese consortium has signed a €700m contract to purchase 100 Airbus H135 helicopters.
The consortium comprises China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS), Qingdao United General Aviation Industrial Development Company (Qingdao United) and CITIC Offshore Helicopter.
These helicopters will be assembled at a new final assembly line in Qingdao, Shandong Province, which will become operational by 2018.
Image: A HForce-equipped H225M helicopter. Photo: Courtesy of Airbus Helicopters.