Forecast: Growth ahead in military helicopter market

Dec. 10, 2013 at 2:04 PM   |   0 comments

LONDON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- An analysis of the military helicopter market forecasts rapid growth to 2022, with earned revenues rising from $31.32 billion in 2012 to $44.27 billion.

According to market research firm Frost & Sullivan, more than 11,170 military platforms are expected to enter into service during the time period but will peak in 2018 as global renewal cycles are achieved across the military segment in most regions.

The Asia-Pacific and Central Asia regions, however, are expected to prove exceptions and will continue to order "significant" amounts of new aircraft.

"Transitioning economies from Central Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia-Pacific continue increasing their fleet size and extending their industrial strength," market analysis firm Frost & Sullivan said in their report, "Global Helicopters Market Assessment."

"These regions are using the platforms renewal cycle as an opportunity to enhance their local industries and benefit from the latest Western technological developments and know-how. As a result, the next technological and demand hub, for military helicopters in particular, will progressively shift from the West to the East.

Two areas in the helicopter market are of particular interest, the company said. First is upgrades and retrofits. Second is the sale of advanced multimission helicopters that require fewer personnel to operate.

"Western military and civil end users are opting to finance life-extension program," it said, as customers seek to bridge a technological gap between current helicopter capabilities and those still under development.

"Upgrades and retrofits could be the way forward for the global helicopters market in the next 10 years," said Frost & Sullivan Aerospace and Defense Research Analyst Alix Leboulanger. "For instance, the Brazilian Fennec life-extension program and the CH-53K Super Stallion program in the United States have revealed promising results before scheduled deadlines, demonstrating the immense opportunities existing in the retrofit segment."

The sale of advanced multimission helicopters requiring fewer personnel is expected to rise but restructuring of military services and reductions in personnel need to be closely monitored industry since it implies fewer platforms to be sold or maintained.

"Helicopter manufacturers must adapt either by raising platform unit prices based on advanced capabilities and net efficiency gain, and/or compete more aggressively in the civil segment to stay successful." Frost & Sullivan said.

Frost & Sullivan, in a recent and separate report also found that a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to reduce costs and enhance platform capabilities is driving the military, parapublic and commercial helicopter systems market.

Advances such as increasing platform speed range, flight control reliability, mission responsiveness rates, efficiency, and platform versatility -- coupled with decreasing fuel consumption and refueling frequency – are encouraging growth in the systems area.

Civilian customers using traditionally military equipment, such as night vision goggles, however, face a challenge of acquiring new, advanced systems and then integrating them with existing platforms, and the ensuing need to modify existing systems and provide additional training for pilots and personnel has deterred market investments from non-military end users.

"Regulations pose another obstacle to the military-civil convergence trend," Leboulanger said. "Dual-use certification for systems to be employed by both military and non-military end users is not yet in place due to growing embargoes and military export concerns.

"Civilian airspace regulations, such as weather minima or air traffic management, must be reviewed to enable non-military pilots to use advanced tools while maintaining high flight safety standards."

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