The Government of Thailand has reportedly ordered four EC725 helicopters for Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. The €100 million deal was announced by Thai deputy prime minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa on 29 August, quoted by the French media. The French built aircraft are expected to replace the Bell UH-1H SAR helicopters currently flying with the Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF).
Eurocopter is demonstrating the helicopter in its CSAR configuration at the MSPO Aerospace and Defense expo in Poland. As the latest and most advanced member of Eurocopter’s 11-ton military product line, the EC725 has become a rotorcraft of choice in the modernization of military forces’ helicopter fleets worldwide. Customers include France, Brazil, Mexico, and Kazakhstan– with negotiations underway for acquisitions by additional countries.
Thailand joins an increasing number of South East Asian nations using the EC725, including the Vietnamese Navy, the Malaysian Air Force, which has ordered 12 examples of the EC725 for use in a range of missions including SAR. In April, the Indonesian Air Force purchased six EC725s for the CSAR role.
Asia has become a growing market for the civilian version of the helicopter – EC225. The Air Force of Taiwan has recently commissioned three EC-225 helicopters for SAR operations. Two EC-225 helicopters geared for SAR and firefighting missions are operating with the South Korean ‘119 Rescue’ civil defense service while three are operating with Japan’s Coast Guards. The EC225 is also a popular choice for offshore operations, supporting the booming oil and gas explorations in the region; eight are already operating in Malaysia by commercial operators MHS Aviation and Awan Inspirasi, with four more operated by the VNH company in Vietnam.