Air Transportation: The Gulf Strategy For Survival

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September 3, 2016: Kuwait has ordered 30 EC725/H225M “Caracal” transport helicopters from AirBus for $37 million each. The H225M is an 11 ton aircraft with a useful load of 5.5 tons, a top speed of 324 kilometers an hour and endurance of about five hours. The main competition for this sale was the American UH-60L which is about the same size as the H225M and has similar performance. Until 2015 the H225M was called the EC725. The H225M entered service in 2005 and two export customers (Brazil and Poland) have a license to build the H225M locally.

For customers like Poland and Brazil a key element in choosing the H225M was that much of the assembly and some of the component manufacturing would take place in the country that was buying it. AirBus has another edge in that they are a large European consortium with manufacturing and assembly facilities all over Europe. Since the Poles already have decades of experience manufacturing helicopters, AirBus seemed to be a good business opportunity as well as a supplier of a helicopter competitive with the combat experienced UH-60. Brazil had the largest industrial manufacturing base in South America and was already producing commercial and military aircraft.

Kuwait, like most wealthy Arabian oil nations, buys a lot of modern weapons, often with lucrative (for the supplier) support contracts. While the Arab states mainly buy American, they also like to check out, and often purchase, competing systems. These are usually from Europe although a few have come from Russia. Israel, long a political pariah to Arab oil states, is becoming acceptable. This is in part because of the Iranian threat and the fact that Israel is the most advanced and productive defense supplier in the region and has already become a major supplier for India. Israel has long supplied intel information to some Moslem states in the region, often on a reciprocal basis and discreetly. For some Arab nations (like Jordan, Egypt and Morocco) that arrangement has worked well for decades. The next step is openly buying military gear from Israel and the first order is likely to come from one of the free spending Arab oil states, because they like to spread the business around to foreign suppliers who might be useful during a showdown with Iran or any other threat.

 


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