Light Attack Helos

SHAH ALAM: Light attack helos. With the MD530G contract effectively cancelled – its not done yet – what kind of light attack helicopters are available to the Army, if it’s in the market for one of course.

The choice is limited of course. Moreover the air wing is already operating 11 AW109 LOH, which are fitted for but not equipped with weapons. It has installed some of the helicopters with MD134 mini guns for fire support.

PUTD AgustaWestland AW109 LOH firing its minigun on the Gemas range.

In a pinch, the Army could just buy the gun and rocket pods to turn the helicopters into light attack helicopters. I was told that Leonardo had offered to upgrade these helicopters for fire support missions though this had not been taken up as the MD530G was supposed to do this. Perhaps in the near future the Army will have to relook at this option.
An AW109 LOH of the PUTD. This rocket and gun pods version was shown some years back.

A comparable helicopter for the role is the Airbus H145M light attack helicopter. At the recent Airbus Trade Media Briefing in Germany, the company presented a more detail over view of the H145M equipped with HForce system. The HForce according to Airbus

Airbus H145M fitted with a gun pod and rocket pod with FLIR for targetting and ISR role.

HForce is a unique, exhaustive and flexible weapon system designed to meet the requirements of defence agencies seeking light attack mission capabilities or a complement to their existing fleet of specialised attack helicopters.

HForce is the latest-generation Airbus weapon system. It is modular and incremental, and can be fitted onto any military version of Airbus’ commercial helicopter range (H125M, H145M, H225M).

HForce offers a large array of weapons, modern and easy target acquisition and a high level of targeting accuracy, formerly reserved for high-end attack helicopters.

A close up view of the front end of the H145M and its FLIR. The picture was taken at TMB19. Malaysian Defence

At the last TMB three years ago, the H145M equipped with HForce system was just an offer, now its official program, with two orders, four helicopters for Serbia and 20 for Hungary.

With a maximum take-off weight of 3.7 tonnes, the H145M can be used for a wide range of tasks, including troop transport, utility, surveillance, air rescue, armed reconnaissance and medical evacuation. The Hungarian fleet will be equipped with a fast roping system, highperformance camera, fire support equipment, ballistic protection as well as an electronic countermeasures system to support the most demanding operational requirements. The HForce system, developed by Airbus Helicopters, will allow Hungary to equip and operate their aircraft with a large set of ballistic or guided air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons.

Airbus H145M fitted with a 12.7mm gun pod. Picture taken at TMB19. Malaysian Defence

Airbus offers four configuration of the HForce system on its helicopters (apart from the H145M, its also on offer for the H125M, H135M and the H225M) – the basic configuration, fitted for but not equipped; guns pods only; rocket and gun pods and guided weapons with gun and rocket pods.
Airbus H145M demo and testing helicopter fitted with a FZ rocket launcher on the port side and FN 12.7 mm gun pod on the starboard side. Note the FLIR and the flare launcher on the skid. Malaysian Defence

As posted previously, Airbus had offered the H145M for the RMN maritime operations helicopter. I was told that it was not in the shortlist, however.

Full disclosure: Airbus paid for the trip to Germany for the writer to attend the Trade Media Briefing 2019 in Germany.
— Malaysian Defence

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