In addition to the Rafale contract, the UAE orders 12 H225M Caracal from Airbus Helicopters

Obviously, Emmanuel Macron did not come for nothing during his express tour of the Middle East from December 2-4. Indeed, besides thehe historic € 16 billion contract for the delivery of 80 Rafale fighter jets to the F4 standard and a stock of MICA NG and Scalp missiles, the United Arab Emirates have also ordered from France 12 H225M Caracal maneuvering helicopters, for an estimated amount of between 700 and 800m €. This providential order for Airbus Helicopter and in particular for the Marignane site where the devices will be assembled, will allow the European helicopter operator to pass the few lean years ahead without a hitch, with a moribund and saturated offshore market. by a large number of helicopters in the park, and a military market also on hold, in particular pending the order of the HIL program and its H160M Guépard intended to replace the Gazelle, Alouette, Panther and other Fennec within the 3 French armed forces.

Unlike the NH90 from a European consortium, the H225M Caracal, the last version of the Super Puma family, is a device based in its vast majority on the French defense industrial base, while offering performance close to that of the European helicopter. With a maximum takeoff weight of 11 tonnes, the Caracal can carry 5,7 tonnes of payload, more than its empty weight of 5,3 tonnes. It can thus transport up to 28 armed commandos, or 10 stretchers in its medical evacuation version, at a cruising speed of 285 km / h, and over a distance of nearly 800 km, which can be extended thanks to its Telescopic aerial refueling pole. It also has the latest generation avionics, an anti-missile protection system with fire detector, decoy launcher and electronic jamming system, and an advanced FLIR optronics system. It can also receive different weapon configurations, including port machine guns, rocket baskets as well as the AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile in its naval version (ordered by Brazil for example)

Thanks to its telescopic pole, the H225M Caracal can be refueled in flight by KC-130 and A400M aircraft, giving it a very important extension, especially for SAR and Special Forces missions.

Used by the Air Force and Space as part of its special forces and rescue missions, the Caracal has been ordered by 11 export customers since it entered service in 2005, for a total of 239 units. ordered and / or delivered. As such, it largely compensated for the thunderous cancellation of the contract for 50 devices announced by the new Polish government in 2015 in favor of American devices. The aircraft was also successfully engaged in combat operations on several occasions, whether in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia or even Mali, during which it demonstrated its efficiency and robustness.

The success of Airbus Helicopters in the Middle East may not be the only one. Indeed, Emmanuel Macron still has to make a stop in Saudi Arabia at the end of the journey, and it could well be that Riyadh will occasionally order between 30 and 50 light helicopters from French industry, which would mark a first step towards return a grace from Paris to the Saudi Kingdom. In one way or another, these orders are essential for the maintenance of the global activity of Airbus Helicopters in France, pending the signing of the HIL contract and its 150 H160M medium helicopters, but also of the conclusion of discussions between Paris, Madrid and Berlin on the subject of the Tiger 3.

The H160M Guépard will replace many models of light and medium helicopters within the French armed forces

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