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U.S. Firms at Disadvantage in Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft Market

January 31, 2009

NEWTOWN, Conn. [January 27, 2009] — A new study from Forecast International on “The Market for Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft” projects that manufacturers will produce 3,924 rotorcraft in this market segment from 2009 through 2018.  The value of this production is an estimated $88.1 billion in constant 2009 U.S. dollars.

The study examines the various trends and factors that are driving the medium/heavy military rotorcraft market, including an influx of new models that are helping to buoy production rates in this lucrative market segment.  Forecast International Senior Aerospace Analyst Raymond Jaworowski notes, “The medium/heavy military sector is the largest segment, as measured by dollar volume of production, of the overall rotorcraft market.”

The new Forecast International study also highlights the fact that the medium/heavy military market has largely become a competition between all-new rotorcraft from non-U.S. manufacturers and improved derivative models, based on older designs, from U.S. firms.  This situation came about primarily because of the U.S. military’s preference, in years past, to procure improved versions of helicopters already in its fleet rather than pursue the development of new rotorcraft.

Whatever the particular merits of this approach may be, the result was that U.S. manufacturers responded by generally focusing their energies on derivative products rather than clean-sheet designs.  U.S. manufacturers thus increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage on the world market, as new versions of older U.S. helicopters compete for sales against new designs from non-U.S. companies.

A new trend, though, may be emerging in U.S. military rotorcraft procurement.  The U.S. Army has long-term plans for two new-start development programs:  the Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) rotorcraft and the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) rotorcraft.  The JHL rotorcraft is envisioned as an all-new heavy-lift transport to succeed the Army’s Chinook fleet, while the JMR rotorcraft is aimed at the service’s future attack and utility helicopter replacement efforts.  However, the future of the JHL program has become a bit clouded, with its incorporation into a joint program with the U.S. Air Force for a new theater lift aircraft.

The Forecast International study generally defines as “medium/heavy” those military rotorcraft that have a maximum gross weight of at least 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb).  The study contains manufacturer market share projections for the 2009-2018 time period, and these projections indicate Sikorsky will lead the medium/heavy military rotorcraft market during this timeframe in both unit production and value of production.  The European consortium NH Industries, which produces the popular NH90 multirole helicopter, is expected to rank second in unit production and third in value of production.  Second place in production value goes to the Bell/Boeing partnership that produces the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft.

Source: Forecast International, Inc

Forecast International, Inc. ( is a leading provider of Market Intelligence and Analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics.  Based in Newtown, Conn., USA, Forecast International specializes in long-range industry forecasts and market assessments used by strategic planners, marketing professionals, military organizations, and governments worldwide.  To arrange an interview with Forecast International’s editors, please contact Ray Peterson, Vice President, Research & Editorial Services (203)-426-0800,
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