The Airbus Helicopters H225M platform equipped with the new HForce GWS system for converting unarmed helicopters into light attack assets. Source: IHS
Airbus Helicopters has unveiled a common weapons system for its range of civil-derived military helicopters, giving operators an affordable and incremental upgrade path: it offers operators the ability to quickly and easily transform their civilian platforms into armed military ones by means of a single common mission computer.
The HForce Generic Weapon System (GWS), as the concept is named, was introduced at HELI EXPO event last March in Louisville, Kentucky. "The HForce GWS can be added to all of our successful civilian helicopters, enabling operators to start building up their military capabilities from something that already exists," said Philippe Kohn, operational marketing manager at the manufacturer. He added: "It is a Swiss Army Knife to cover all of the operational spectrum."
So far ballistic weapons have been added to the 11t-class platform, including 12.7 mm heavy machine gun pods (HMPs), 20 mm cannon pods, air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, and/or 68 mm and 70 mm unguided and guided rockets. Live test firings as part of a qualification campaign will take place later this year. Integration of guided weapons will be complete by year-end, adds Kohn.
Key to HForce is the use of a common Rockwell Collins Deutschland mission management system across the three helicopters initially enrolled in the Program: the 2.5t H125M, the medium-class H145M, and the heavy H225M.
This single mission-computer enables the integration of a number of different weapon systems or combinations, available as four Options from 0 to 3. This will allow operators to order the helicopter in a baseline configuration without weapons, yet still retain the ability to easily upgrade them. Kohn says: “Even if you buy Option Zero (on the H125M) your neighbors know you will be able to transform it into a light attack helicopter very quickly.”
Ballistic weapons can be fired by the pilot alone, using his helmet-mounted sight display, or with the addition of an electro-optical/infrared targeting sensor – initially the L-3 Wescam MX-15/20 – the co-pilot can effectively act as a gunner. Guided weapons would also be controlled by the gunner.
“For the first time on such a commercial helicopter we can split the workload in two, just like on an attack helicopter,” says Kohn.
Around eight potential nations are “deeply interested” in acquiring new helicopters equipped with HForce, he claims. The H225M being utilized for flight testing is a customer model, taken from the line early in anticipation of a three- or four-unit order. Two additional countries are keen on a retrofit program. This is mainly focused on the installation of the new mission computer and electrical systems.
“The key is to gather all these things into an incremental weapons system. If a customer comes and asks us for something different – a specific machine gun, for example – then we will have to develop it,” says Kohn.
Source: Flight Global, Aviation connected, and IHS Jane's International Defence Review
Written by Patricia Ruiz
Patricia Ruiz is Environmental and Forestry Engineer and a Supply Chain Management Expert