Airbus Offers H145M Chopper to Australian Military

The helicopter’s versatility makes it a popular choice around the world.

The Australian military is seeking helicopters for antiterrorism missions—and Airbus thinks it has the solution in its H145M light military aircraft.

The Australian Defence Force has put out a call for up to 16 vehicles for use in urban domestic counterterrorism missions: the choppers would perform air assault, special forces support and quick troop deployment—as well as intelligence and surveillance missions.

In response, Airbus is teaming up with more than 20 Australian partners to form Team Nightjar—named after a small Australian bird of prey—for the bid.

The Airbus H145M is a compact, versatile light twin-engine helicopter powered by two Safran Helicopter Arrius 2E turboshaft engines and Airbus’ proprietary Fenestron shrouded tail rotor for increased torque control. The four-ton aircraft can reach a fast cruise speed of 129 knots (238 miles per hour), has a maximum range of 345 nautical miles, and can stay in the air for three and a half hours. Its maximum takeoff weight is 8,378 pounds.

The helicopter, which has a state-of-the-art digital cockpit that incorporates the company’s Helionix avionics suite, can integrate with night vision goggles and features a four-axis digital autopilot designed to lighten a pilot’s workload.

Airbus H145M flight demonstration.

Airbus touts the H145M’s versatility, claiming that the helicopter can be reconfigured within minutes thanks to its plug-and-play mission systems that can be easily swapped in and out. This means the helicopter can be quickly converted from a troop transport that can seat 10 soldiers plus two pilots, to a search and rescue mission with stretchers and a rescue hoist, to a combat mission with weapons and defense measures. The vehicle’s low infrared signature and quiet operation also make it well suited for intelligence and reconnaissance roles.

The Australian military has specified that it wants a helicopter that can support its Special Operations branch to conduct missions in dense urban environments and which can be deployed from a Boeing C-17A military transport aircraft.

“The H145M is an exemplar platform for light special operations and is a solid match for the Special Forces’ requirements, with proven capabilities for no-fail, high-readiness missions,” said Andrew Mathewson, managing director, Airbus Australia Pacific.

Team Nightjar will also offer training and support services as part of its bid. And the team is working with Australia`s Deakin University to develop solutions and modifications for the H145M through its anticipated 25 years of service.

Should Canberra choose Team Nightjar’s bid, it will join a growing list of state customers that are deploying the H145M in a wide variety of roles. For example, the Western Australia Police Force uses the helicopter for law enforcement support, New Zealand uses two of the aircraft for emergency medical services, and the German Army’s special forces use the aircraft for search and rescue. The Australian government is anticipated to evaluate proposals for its bid by the end of the year.

Read more about military helicopters at Sikorsky To Deliver New King Stallion Helicopters for the Navy.