Redbull hangár

Redbull hangár

2018. augusztus 10., péntek

Airbus H145M demostration in Hungary

Text: Gabriella Gulyás, fotók: Nándor Emil Dudás

We got an invitation to the test of Airbus H145M helicopter’s weapons system at Bakony Military Training Center, Hungary. The manufacturer organized a very spectacular demo for the representatives of the international and Hungarian media.

When the invitation arrived, we only know that the Hungarian Army wants to buy new transport helicopters, as the Mi-8s and the Mi-17s will serve their time soon, in spite of overhaul. I didn’t have any info who are the candidates in this tender. So one of them is Airbus – I thought, because what else could be the purpose of an event like this to show the potential customer countries’ press (and the citizens by the media reports) how good helicopters they make. In the meantime, the Hungarian Army announced, that they bought 20 of this type. The related press release from the Ministry of Defence was very short-spoken, but what Airbus sent was more informative. They wrote, that the helicopters will have a fast roping system, high performance camera, fire support equipment, ballistic protection as well as an electronic countermeasures system. The producer confirmed on the media day, what may be suspected, that this equipment will be for special forces and search & rescue missions. I think, it will be ideal for parachute jumps as well, because of the curtainsider doors. 😄

We learnt at the venue, that the Hungarians choose the biggest from the HForce weapon system options. It means a 20 mm cannon, a 12,7 mm machine gun, 68 and 70 mm rocket, laser–guided rocket, air-to-ground & air-to-air missiles, plus EOS (Electro Optical System) to provide support for the combat helicopters. The ballistic weapons’ qualification was in progress at the Kőröshegy shooting range. As the weapons system is a new development, they started its test last autumn. They are planning to finish the qualification of the ballistic part by the end of this year, the laser guided rockets till the end of 2019. (The Serbian customer bought a simpler version from the weapon system, the German Army nothing so far.) The type’s first flight was in 2014 only, but it’s not a brand new construction as it is based on the H-72A Lakota (also known EC-145) what the US Army uses from 2006 (bought 478, shipped more the 420 so far). They have 460.000 flight hours altogether, their operational availability is 85%. The H145M has two engines with double channelled electronic engine control.

As for the basic technical data, its maximum take-off weight is 3.7 tons with 1.600 kg payload. Max speed is 264 km/h, max range is 639 km or 3h 32 with self sealing fuel supply tank. We learnt from the presentation in the morning, that the highest option what the Hungarian s choose from the HForce weapon system can be managed by the pilot and the gunner as well. The Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMSD) and the digital glass cockpit help them in it. If only the pilot is in the cockpit, 11 soldiers can be on board, if the gunner is inside, 10 soldiers can join them. One of the type’s big advantages is the completely digital cockpit (they banished all the analogical solutions) and two mission computers is in it. If a screen goes wrong, the others reconfigure themselves automatically. It provides many autopilot options, it is equipped with four independent data buses. It is able to communicate with ground and air data transmission, the weapon system management is the part of its basic package. It is interesting, that they are working on the solution to pack four H145M into a C-17 in half an hour for a customer request. It could be tested at Pápa Air Base for example, where are a few from this big transport aircraft. 😉 Airbus perhaps found a market gap with this light, multirole. client request-centric, budget-friendly aircraft which has a flexible equipment, weapon system, education and maintenance package. Its interior can be convertible in minutes for the different missions, even its armoured cockpit wall and floor are installable easily.

As we bought the biggest fleet from this type so far with the largest weapon package, it can happen, that Hungary become the ideal business partner to the potential customers.

When I asked Airbus’s representatives about the training and maintenance package we bought, they informed me, that the Hungarian Army asked them not to talk about this details of the contract in this phase. Unfortunately nobody was there from the other party to ask about the possible change of this communication strategy.

Practice followed the presentation in the afternoon: the demonstration of the weapon system. As it has turned out, the decision makers of the potential customer countries were also invited beside the media prior the press day, Kazahstan, the Czech Republic, Austria and Australia were on the list among others. Airbus choose Bakony Military Training Centre for the test, because it is close to the factory in Donauwörth, had vacancy, it’s a NATO member county’s shooting range and Hungarians were very open to the request. And of course the country became a business partner in the meantime, which made the choice even more fortunate. The test team uses Papa Air Base for basis.

They’ve been examining the technique on helicopter with German registration mark for weeks, with an experienced cockpit crew: the pilot is working for Airbus for 5 years, he served at the Dutch Air Force before, the gunner is with the factory for 25 years. The organizers started the program later due to a heavy storm, but it was worth the wait for it as it was very spectacular and photographers could make better shots of the infra trap dropping with the dark clouds in the background. Accordingly to the scenario, the H145M provided aerial support with cannon, machine gun and missiles to the ground forces acted by the soldiers of MH. 2 Vitéz Bertalan Árpád Special Forces Brigade. At the end of the program, the helicopter demonstrated its excellent manoeuvring skills and surprisingly silent voice what you can experience in the videos.

Summarizing my impressions, even though we don’t know the whole story, but one thing is sure: buying this helicopters, the Hungarian Army made a multigeneration jump comparing them to the Mi-8s and Mi-17s. Every Hungarian military aircraft fan keeps nice memories about the Soviet technique - civilians from the air shows, soldiers by their military service -, but time passed over them. We got high-tech with the new helis and taking that we bought the best weapon package, I hope, the same happened to the training of crew and maintenance. Everything will turn out when the fleet arrive in the second half of next year the latest.

Thank you for the invitation and the fantastic day for Airbus and its Hungarian PR agency.

Photo and video gallery:

Catering and partners' tent at the shooting range

JTAC man