Moroccan H135M deliveries begin

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The Royal Moroccan Air Force has taken delivery of the first of its two H135M helicopters ordered from Airbus Helicopters, marking the beginning of a significant addition to Morocco’s military training capabilities. 

The helicopters are part of a batch of 12 being acquired as part of the North African nation’s efforts to modernize its military helicopter fleet. The first two H135M aircraft, according to Far-Maroc and Morocco World News, arrived in Meknes in north-central Morocco on 7 September from Perpignan Airport in France after brief stops in Almeria, Spain, and Tangier.

The new H135Ms will replace the Royal Moroccan Air Force Helicopter Flight School’s AgustaBell AB206A and AB206B rotorcraft in use at 1 Air Base at Rabat/Salé, Scramble reported.

The new helicopters will play a pivotal role in training pilots for a wide array of missions, including utility and search and rescue operations. Under the contract with Airbus, which was announced in July 2022, Morocco will receive a comprehensive support package, including the delivery of Flight Training Devices and the training of instructor pilots and maintenance pilots. The training programme will enable Morocco to take full advantage of the H135’s multi mission capabilities such as NVG and winching, Airbus Helicopters said.

The company touted the H135’s endurance, compactness, low noise emissions, reliability, versatility, and cost-effectiveness, making it a valuable asset to Morocco’s Air Force. The H135 has accommodation for seven (including two flight crew) in its standard configuration, and boasts a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 2 980 kg; a maximum payload of 1 360 kg; a top speed of 259 km/h; a range of 633 km with standard fuel and at normal MTOW; and an endurance of 3 hours 35 minutes.

With the inclusion of Morocco, the H135 helicopter, previously known as the EC135, is now operated by 12 military entities worldwide. These helicopters have collectively accumulated over 400 000 military flight training hours (Some 1 400 H135 helicopters are operated by more than 300 commercial and private operators in 65 countries. The fleet has accumulated more than 6.5 million flight hours.)

Morocco is a previous Airbus Helicopters customer – in January 2020 the country’s Gendarmerie took delivery of two H125 helicopters, joining its fleet of nearly three dozen aircraft.

The Royal Moroccan Air Force ordered 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from Boeing in 2020, with deliveries set to commence in 2024. The acquisition of new helicopters and Morocco’s ongoing commitment to enhancing its aviation capabilities reflect the nation’s dedication to bolstering its defence infrastructure and maintaining a modern and versatile military force.