Asia set to be largest market for light military rotorcraft


A total of 1 854 light military rotorcraft will be produced during the 15-year timeframe between 2019 and 2033, according to a new forecast, with Asia the largest and most dynamic regional market during, with key programs getting underway in several countries, such as India, Japan, and South Korea.

This is according to a new study by Forecast International, which said that several planned new-start acquisition programs will kick-start demand in the long term in the light military rotorcraft market, which is worth $29 billion over the next 15 years. (Forecast International defines a light military rotorcraft as having a maximum gross weight of less than 6 804 kg).

Production of light military rotorcraft is forecast to increase to 155 units in 2019, from 153 in 2018. The annual output is then projected to decline over the next several years and average about 111 units beginning in 2026 and extending to the end of the 15-year forecast period.

Re-equipment cycles are nearing an end in the U.S. and many European countries, and the next round of fleet modernization programs for these nations is still some years away. According to Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski, “Asia will be the largest and most dynamic regional market during the 2019-2033 forecast period, with key programs getting underway in several countries, such as India, Japan, and South Korea.”

Indeed, India has a number of stated future requirements for light rotorcraft, totalling hundreds of helicopters, but budgetary and other factors could result in some of these efforts being delayed or even shelved.

Toward the end of the forecast period, production will ramp up for key programs such as the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program and the French military’s Helicoptere Interarmees Leger (HIL) effort, setting the stage for a return to market growth.

Forecast International projects that production for the FARA program will be worth an estimated $4.8 billion by 2033, representing 16.6 percent of the market by value and 8.7 percent by unit production. Also, production of the FARA platform will continue well beyond 2033.

Plans call for the FARA contract to be awarded following a staged downselect and a competitive fly-off. Five companies are currently engaged in initial development work for the program: Bell, Boeing. Karem Aircraft, Sikorsky, and a team of AVX Aircraft and L3Harris.

Overall, Forecast International’s market share projections indicate that China’s AVIC will lead the light military rotorcraft market in unit production, producing 331 units over the 15-year forecast period for a market share of 17.9 percent. Airbus Helicopters is next, with production of 324 units for a 17.5 percent share. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) of India is third on production of 245 units, representing a 13.2 percent share. Bell is projected to be fourth, with production of 173 units for a 9.3 percent share. Finally, KAI of South Korea will rank fifth, with production of 145 rotorcraft for a 7.8 percent market share.