Introducing the AH-125 and MH-125 also nicknamed Ares. Built in the United States, these new versions of the Airbus H125 range combine the performance of the leading light helicopter in its segment with the versatility and efficiency required for military missions. Many US allies and partners have a need for military helicopters that can be armed but lack the budgets to acquire specialised aircraft. A single-engine, multi-purpose helicopter can meet that need, provided it is assembled in the United States to qualify for US support, both for acquisition and deployment. With the AH-125 version, which is designed for combat support, the H125 is armed with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and non-guided missiles. Another potential development is the ability to deploy light guided weapons. The MH-125 version is a multi-role helicopter, which can easily be configured for a wide variety of missions in a military context: tactical transport, air assault, combat rescue, medical evacuation, etc.
The AH-125 and MH-125 Ares, developed by Airbus Helicopters, Inc in the United States, meet this requirement, with a number of important advantages, as Scott Tumpak, Vice President of Airbus US’s Military Helicopters explains: “In the light single-engine category, the H125 is renowned worldwide for its performance, efficiency and versatility, which can be easily extended to a wide range of military missions.”
“The AH-125 and MH-125 can be reconfigured quickly. and the switch from one version to another can be made in just 30 minutes by installing or removing the weapons pylons. This aircraft is a perfect solution for US allies, not only because it is technically very capable, but also because it is based on a highly developed ecosystem. The H125 family currently holds 85% of the single-engine market and this percentage is shared by various agencies and other US parapublic users,” says Chris Arnold, Senior Manager of Foreign Military Sales.
The key to this modular design lies in the facilities designed by MAG Aerospace, Airbus’ US partner on this programme. MAG Aerospace is responsible for the design, certification and manufacture of the transport pylons. The originality of this solution is that the pylons are independent of the AH-125’s cabin, allowing it to fly unrestricted, with the doors open or closed. A lot of American public and parapublic operators, notably police departments, use their H125s in the same way as the AH and MH-125: deploying intervention groups to urban or suburban areas, transporting snipers, winching, lifting sling loads, surveillance and intelligence, etc. The Airbus Helicopters plant in Columbus, Mississippi, currently assembles an average of 24 helicopters per year. It is ready to add the AH and MH-125 to its production plan and has the capacity to handle aircraft manufacture from start to finish in whatever configuration is required.
An MH-125 ordered today could be delivered in nine months. For an AH-125, it takes 18 months to certify the STC to the FAA for the installation of weapons pylons. This is in fact the only STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) that will need to be certified for new versions of the H125: the helicopter already holds the world record for having the most STCs, with a very long list of options already certified. This is not the least of its qualities. The H125 is the world’s top-selling helicopter with a long history of use by U.S. law enforcement and government agencies. Currently, the H125 is the light enforcement helicopter used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with more than 100 H125 family aircraft in service, making the U.S. government the single largest customer and operator of the aircraft. Airbus provides a range of reliable and versatile helicopters to the U.S. government and military, enabling them to perform a wide variety of missions. More than 480 UH-72A and UH-72B Lakota helicopters have been delivered to the U.S. Army and National Guard since the program began in 2006.