Eurocopter EC725 – How fearsome is the Caracal multitasking helicopter?

Basically, EC725 is the further development of Eurocopter AS532 Cougar, improving upon the design with a five-blade composite main rotor incorporating a new airfoil shape to reduce vibration levels.

Introduce

The EC-725 Caracal helicopter, with an estimated cost of $ 20 million each, is an Airbus long-range tactical transport helicopter. As the newest member of the Cougar family, the 11-ton helicopter has proven reliability and durability in combat conditions. The modern combat environment promotes the multi-purpose and flexibility of military assets. In the late 1990s, a specialized helicopter project for Search and Rescue operations was developed to meet the requirements of the French Air Force.

With experience gained from the Cougar family, Eurocopter designed a new helicopter based on the AS-532 Cougar, later designated EC725. The new helicopter will replace the role of the outdated AS 532 Cougar of the French Air Force. In addition to its original purpose to carry out the military transport, Combat Search and Rescue operations, when armed, the EC725 is also available for combat missions.

EC-725 has seen combat service at the hottest locations in the world, including Lebanon, Afghanistan, Chad, the Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Mali, while supporting activities due to NATO leadership in Libya. EC725 made its first flight on November 27, 2000, the first helicopter was delivered to the French Air Force in February 2005. In 2015, EC725 was renamed H225M, to suit with the new brand of Airbus Helicopters.

Design

Basically, EC725 is the further development of Eurocopter AS532 Cougar, improving upon the design with a five-blade composite main rotor incorporating a new airfoil shape to reduce vibration levels. The helicopter can be fitted with removable armour plating to protect the troops and is powered by two Turbomeca Makila 1A4 turboshaft engines mounted over the cabin, which feature a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control system.

Thanks to the anti-icing system, allows the helicopter to operate in very cold climates. EC725 can be used for land and sea transport missions, as well as other special missions. Other improvements include a reinforced main rotor gearbox and an all glass cockpit. The cockpit is designed for two-person crew, protected by bulletproof glass. The pilots are supported by an integrated display system featuring a digital map and Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Displays.

Behind the cockpit is the passenger compartment, which takes up most of the fuselage. EC725 can carry 5.67 tons of cargo or 29 soldiers. Above the passenger cabin are the engines, driving a five-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor. Overall dimensions of the EC-725 include the length of 19.5m (63.97 ft), height of 4.6m (15 ft).

The landing system consists of two main single-wheeled legs and a double tired nose leg. An in-flight refueling probe can be mounted on the starboard side of the aircraft to refuel on the flight, so the range of operation is greatly extended. Many different kits are available for customers to equip EC 725 for the required task roles.

Powerplant

Airbus has equipped EC-725 with two turboméca Makila 2A1 turboshaft engines, with a capacity of 2,382 horsepower each. The helicopter can reach a maximum speed of 324 km/h, a cruise speed of 285 km/h, a range of 920 km, a service ceiling of 6,000m and a rate of climb up to 7.4 meters per second.

Armament

The helicopter has day and night time search and rescue capabilities by way of a search radar and Forward Looking Infra Red; these allow the EC725 to be flown under visual meteorological and instrument flight rules conditions. Depending on the requirements of the customer, EC725 can be customized with many different military equipment and ωεɑρσռs, such as a pair of 7.62 mm FN MAG machine guns mounted within forward left and right windows, or a pair of 68 mm side-mounted rocket launchers, each with 19 rockets, or the MU90 Impact aerial-launched torpedo.

Thanks to its flexible modular structure, the EC725 can be equipped with a Helibras-built countermeasures suite, which includes chaff and flares to confuse radar and heat-guided missiles respectively. Recently, Airbus has successfully tested the EC-725 version with the anti-ship Exocet, helping to improve the combat capability of the helicopter.

Operators

Currently, there are about 90 EC-725 helicopters operating with Brazil, France, Mexico, etc. Most recently, the Royal Thai Air Force ordered a total of four EC-725 helicopters as part of the country’s military modernization program. EC-725 will replace the outdated Bell UH-1 helicopter, which has been in service since the late 1960s. In addition to Thailand, several other countries in Southeast Asia are also using and ordering Airbus helicopters. According to the announcement, Singapore has ordered 12 H225Ms, while Malaysia is using a fleet of 12 helicopters.

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