The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has received the four new medium-lift helicopters it ordered, Airbus Helicopters announced August 25.
The four EC725 helicopters, which were ordered in 2012, were delivered and will become operational next month, the company announced. Two additional EC725s which were ordered in 2014 are expected to be delivered to the RTAF in 2016.
The EC725 – which has been renamed the H225M in 2015 in line with Eurocopter’s corporate rebranding as Airbus Helicopters – is a 11-ton, twin-engine helicopter. It features high-performance navigation and mission systems – including a unique digital four-axis autopilot. It boasts a maximum speed of 201 miles per hour, a range of 533 miles and a service ceiling of nearly 20,000 feet.
According to Airbus Helicopters, it is capable of performing multiple missions including combat search and rescue, long-range tactical transport, aeromedical transport and logistic support and naval duties. Delivering excellent flight autonomy and seating 28 persons, the company says the powerful helicopter is “perfectly tailored” for the RTAF to carry out such missions.
For Thailand, the order is part of its ongoing efforts to modernize its military. Once operational, the new EC725 helicopters will enable the RTAF to begin the retirement process for the aging 18 Bell UH-1H ‘Huey’ helicopters which have been in service for nearly five decades.
“With Thailand’s investment in the modernization of its aircraft inventory, the EC725s will become a formidable asset in the Royal Thai Air Force’s helicopter fleet,” said Fabrice Rochereau, Airbus Helicopters’ vice president of sales and customer relations in the Asia-Pacific.
Several of Thailand’s Southeast Asian neighbors already operate or have ordered the EC725 in the Asia-Pacific. Indonesia has ordered six units, deliveries of which started in late 2014. Meanwhile, Malaysia is already operating its fleet of 12 aircraft, performing numerous search and rescue missions. Other countries that operate it beyond the Asia-Pacific include France, Brazil, Mexico, and Kazakhstan.