May 27, 2012:
Kazakhstan has ordered 20 Eurocopter Super Cougar EC725 helicopters. This is an 11.2 ton aircraft with a useful load of 5.5 tons, a top speed of 324 kilometers an hour, a range of about 850 kilometers, and the ability to stay in the air for about five hours per sortie. Introduced in 2005, the Super Cougar is about ten percent heavier than the 1980s UH-60 Blackhawk and has even more internal space (Cougar can carry 20 passengers versus 14 in the Blackhawk) and costs about $30 million each.
The EC725 competition includes the new NH90. Costing about $44 million each, the ten ton NH90 can carry 21 troops or twelve casualties on stretchers, plus the crew of two. It first flew in 1995. The manufacturer, NH Industries, is a consortium of French, German, Dutch, and Italian firms.
The Blackhawk design is twenty years older than the NH90. Although the latest version of the Blackhawk is up to date technically, it is slightly smaller and lighter than the NH90 and can only carry eleven troops. Blackhawk max speed is 285 kilometers an hour and endurance is 2.1 hours. The NH90 has more powerful engines and larger fuel capacity, as well as being a bit larger. The big difference is in cost, with new NH90s, or EC725s, more expensive than the $22 million Blackhawk.