Bumpy ride predicted for light military rotorcraft market


The production of light military rotorcraft is expected to increase next year but drop early next decade, according to a new study by Forecast International that indicates 1 304 light military rotorcraft will be produced from 2015 to 2024.

The value of this production is estimated at $19.9 billion in constant 2015 U.S. dollars, Forecast International said. It defines a light military rotorcraft as having a maximum gross weight of less than 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb).

Annual production of light military rotorcraft is projected to increase from 171 units in 2015 to 223 in 2016. However, this rise in annual build rates is expected to be only temporary, as yearly production will head downward after 2016, reaching a low of only 68 units in each of 2022 and 2023. A slight rebound, to 72 units, is projected in 2024.

Budgetary difficulties around the globe are impacting the light military rotorcraft market. Many nations have been reducing defence spending, with the result that some existing rotorcraft procurements are being stretched out or reduced in scope. At the same time, several new start acquisitions have been postponed or cancelled. And, unless additional sales are secured to boost long-dwindling order books, a number of helicopters will be nearing the end of their production lives, Forecast International said.

Over the next 10 years, its forecast indicates that Asia will grow in relative importance as a regional market for light military helicopters while the European and North American markets decline. India, Japan, and South Korea are all planning significant and sizable procurements of light helicopters, presenting quite a contrast in this regard to most nations in other parts of the world.

As for market share projections by manufacturer, Airbus Helicopters is forecast to lead the market in unit production during the 2015-2024 time period, building 337 light military helicopters over the 10-year timeframe. Bell is projected to lead in monetary value during the same period, on production worth $5.69 billion.