Medium and heavy military helicopter market seen stabilising


Over the next 15 years, from 2018 to 2032, the medium/heavy military sector will be the largest segment of the world rotorcraft market in terms of monetary value, and second only to the light civil rotorcraft segment in terms of unit production, according to a new study.

Forecast International predicts that 5,714 medium/heavy military rotorcraft will be produced from 2018 through 2032, with the value of this production estimated at $152 billion in constant 2018 U.S. dollars. Forecast International generally defines a medium/heavy military rotorcraft as one having a gross weight of at least 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb).

Forecast International predicts that Russian Helicopters will lead the segment in unit production during the 2018-2032 timeframe, with a 38.6 share of the market. The Russian consortium is followed by Sikorsky (23.4 percent), Avicopter of China (9.3 percent), and Boeing (8.0 percent).

When the market is measured in terms of monetary value, the 15-year projections show Sikorsky in the lead in value of production with a 30.4 percent share, followed by Russian Helicopters (27.2 percent), Boeing (10.3 percent), and NH Industries (7.2 percent).

The market is expected to be relatively stable through much of the forecast period. Production in the segment had totalled 667 rotorcraft in 2013. However, according to Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski, “The production level achieved in 2013 could not be maintained in the face of declining demand, and the medium/heavy military rotorcraft market has since settled back into a more sustainable level of annual output.” The forecast sees annual production to remain within a range of 420-480 units at least through 2026.

The medium/heavy military rotorcraft market could enter a more critical phase in the late 2020s. By then, production will have been completed for nearly all of the U.S. military’s current rotorcraft acquisition programs. Production for export customers can be expected to further extend the production life of most of these legacy rotorcraft, but at reduced build rates, Forecast International said.

Thus, a sharp decline in annual production might be in store from the late 2020s until production ramps up in the 2030s for the U.S. military’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program and similar requirements in other countries. However, some in the industry are hoping for an acceleration of the FVL program schedule that potentially would narrow or even eliminate this production gap.