Non-US Manufacturers Offering Newer Designs, Versus Improved
A new study from Forecast International on "The Market for
Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft" projects that manufacturers will
produce 3,924 rotorcraft in this market segment from 2009 through
2018. The value of this production is an estimated $88.1 billion in
constant 2009 US dollars.
The study examines the various trends and factors that are
driving the medium/heavy military rotorcraft market, including an
influx of new models that are helping to buoy production rates in
this lucrative market segment.
Forecast International Senior Aerospace Analyst Raymond
Jaworowski notes, "The medium/heavy military sector is the largest
segment, as measured by dollar volume of production, of the overall
The new Forecast International study also highlights the fact
that the medium/heavy military market has largely become a
competition between all-new rotorcraft from non-US manufacturers
and improved derivative models, based on older designs, from US
firms. This situation came about primarily because of the US
military's preference, in years past, to procure improved versions
of helicopters already in its fleet rather than pursue the
development of new rotorcraft.
Whatever the particular merits of this approach may be, the
result was that US manufacturers responded by generally focusing
their energies on derivative products rather than clean-sheet
designs. US manufacturers thus increasingly find themselves at a
competitive disadvantage on the world market, as new versions of
older helicopters compete for sales against new designs from
A new trend, though, may be emerging in US military rotorcraft
procurement. The US Army has long-term plans for two new-start
development programs: the Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) rotorcraft and the
Joint Multi-Role (JMR) rotorcraft. The JHL rotorcraft is envisioned
as an all-new heavy-lift transport to succeed the Army’s
Chinook fleet, while the JMR rotorcraft is aimed at the
service’s future attack and utility helicopter replacement
However, the future of the JHL program has become a bit clouded,
with its incorporation into a joint program with the US Air Force
for a new theater lift aircraft.
The Forecast International study generally defines as
"medium/heavy" those military rotorcraft that have a maximum gross
weight of at least 15,000 lbs. The study contains manufacturer
market share projections for the 2009-2018 time period, and these
projections indicate Sikorsky will lead the medium/heavy military
rotorcraft market during this timeframe in both unit production and
value of production.
European consortium NH Industries, which produces the popular
NH90 multirole helicopter, is expected to rank second in unit
production and third in value of production. Second place in
production value goes to the Bell/Boeing partnership that produces
the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft.