Despite decline, military rotorcraft important for manufacturers

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As the military rotorcraft market enters a downturn, Forecast International sees a strong niche in the medium/heavy military rotorcraft sector with over 5 300 units expected to be produced in the next 10 years.

The company’s new study “The Market for Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft” reports that, during the 2015-2024 forecast period, the value of production will be an estimated $126.3 billion (in FY15 US dollars).

The study defines a medium/heavy military rotorcraft as one having a gross weight of 6 804 kilograms (15 000 lb) or more. Sample products in this range include the AgustaWestland AW101, the Airbus Helicopters AS 532/EC 725, the Bell/Boeing V-22, the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, the NH Industries NH90, the Russian Helicopters Mi-17 and Mi-26, and the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.

Russian Helicopters, which has become a major player in the medium/heavy military rotorcraft market, will lead production during the timeframe, with Sikorsky coming in number two, Forecast International predicts.

According to the study, production of medium/heavy military rotorcraft has risen each year since 2004, with manufacturers delivering large numbers of machines to the world’s militaries. However, market fundamentals now point to a reversal of this trend.

The Forecast International study indicates that annual production will decline from 653 rotorcraft in 2014 to 643 in 2015, and continue declining until reaching a 10-year low of 445 rotorcraft in 2022.
“In the U.S. and many other nations, defence spending has been under increasing pressure as governments look to deal with large budget deficits,” said Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski. “Often, the armed forces of these countries have been asked to assume a disproportionate share of the spending reductions instituted to combat the deficits.”

Jaworowski added, “As a result of these financial pressures, various military rotorcraft procurement programmes are being stretched out, cut back in scope, or cancelled altogether. At the same time, very few major new acquisition programmes have emerged that would help keep overall build rates in the market growing or even stable.”



The Forecast International study notes that, despite the expected decline, the medium/heavy military sector will continue to be important to manufacturers, as it is the largest segment of the rotorcraft market in terms of production value. Nevertheless, the anticipated decline is cause for concern. Jaworowski said, “Faced with decreasing demand for military rotorcraft in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world, manufacturers will increasingly have to look to the civil market, to select non-U.S. military sales opportunities, and to aftermarket sales for ways to increase revenue and market share.”