By Aritra Banerjee
With nations across the globe striving to upgrade their military aviation prowess, extensive efforts to replace older helicopter fleets with state-of-the-art rotorcrafts have gained prominence. The United States, for instance, has initiated the acquisition of the V-280 Valor, aiming to retire the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters under its Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft program. These endeavours are projected to escalate the worldwide military rotorcraft market from $19.6 billion in 2023 to $28.4 billion by 2033, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of approximately 3.8%, as revealed by GlobalData.
The report’ Global Military Rotorcraft Market – 2023-2033,’ by GlobalData, underscores that enduring regional power dynamics and territorial disputes will be the key factors prompting the procurement of rotorcrafts across countries. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict is predicted to pressurise several European nations to increase their defence budgets, spurring the demand for military rotorcrafts in the approaching decade.
Chandan Kumar Nayak, Aerospace and Defence Analyst at GlobalData, asserts, “Mounting geopolitical tensions and regional conflicts have necessitated an increase in nations’ budgetary provisions for helicopter procurement. Armed forces are progressively centring on amalgamating emerging technologies, enabling more efficient mission accomplishment. Nations such as the US and China are at the forefront of technology, utilising artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce pilot workloads and assist in mission-related decision-making. Similarly, integrating hybrid propulsion systems for future military helicopters is being contemplated to improve flight performance. Technological breakthroughs like these are expected to significantly contribute to future military rotorcrafts’ enhanced flight performance and attack capabilities.”
Simultaneously, nations like Turkey and South Korea are elevating indigenisation levels through technology transfer agreements and collaborations with leading global helicopter manufacturers, making considerable investments in domestic R&D and manufacturing infrastructure. These tactics are aimed at minimising import reliance to cater to military requirements. In a similar vein, India is pushing the envelope with the development and induction of several indigenously produced helicopters, such as the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Light Utility Helicopters (LUH), and Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), to modernise its armed forces’ vertical lift capabilities.
Given the surging demand from armed forces for supply and logistics operations, transport and utility helicopters are anticipated to dominate the military rotorcraft market. Globally, the focus is pivoting towards multirole rotorcrafts armed with cutting-edge technologies.
Nayak concludes, “The escalating complexity and cost of military rotorcraft development necessitate international collaboration, as nations aim to lessen the risks and costs associated with developing and acquiring new rotorcraft platforms. Reflecting this trend, nations like France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, and the UK have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a new medium-lift helicopter for NATO under the Next-Generation Rotorcraft Capabilities (NGRC) project.”
Highlighting the substantial growth potential of the market, Director General Army Aviation Corps, Lieutenant General AK Suri, emphasised numbers. With the Indian Army currently operating 400 helicopters and projected to have around 700 in the forthcoming 8-10 years, there is a pressing need to expand MRO capacities to meet the demand over the coming decade.