Airbus Helicopters has been awarded a contract to enhance the Thai military’s airborne capabilities through the supply of two of its mission-ready helicopters.

Under the contract, the company will supply additional two 11t-class EC725 helicopters to the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), and five light-utility EC645 T2 helicopter to the Royal Thai Navy.

Airbus Helicopters Region South East Asia & Pacific head Philippe Monteux said: "By acquiring both the EC645 T2 and EC725, Thailand will be operating two of the most capable helicopters in their categories, delivering high levels of mission flexibility with their modern avionics and rugged airframes."

The new EC725s are scheduled to be used by RTAF for search-and-rescue/combat search-and-rescue (SAR/CSAR) missions, operating from Wing 2 at Lop Buri Air Base in Thailand’s Lop Buri Province.

Thailand already ordered four EC725 helicopters, configured for SAR missions, from Airbus in September 2012.

Deliveries of the previously-ordered rotorcraft are scheduled to start from 2015, while the new EC725s will be handed over to RTAF in 2017.

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"The new EC725s are scheduled to be used by RTAF for search-and-rescue/combat search-and-rescue missions."

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.

Currently operated by France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, the helicopters have also proven their capabilities in crisis areas, such as Lebanon, Afghanistan and Mali, while also supporting French troops during Nato-led operations in Libya.

Powered by Turbomeca Arriel 2E engines, the EC645 T2 is a militarised version of the EC145 T2, and is scheduled to be operated by Thai Navy for transport duties and other missions.

The helicopter is equipped with a modern digital cockpit, a 4-axis autopilot, and a Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, for landings and takeoffs in confined landing sites, and during loading/unloading on the ground while the rotor is turning.

Deliveries are anticipated to commence in 2016.

Image: Airbus Helicopters and Thai military officials after a signing a contract for supply of EC725 and EC645 T2 helicopters to Thailand. Photo: courtesy of Airbus Helicopters, Thierry Rostang.

Defence Technology