Airbus Helicopters’ Brazilian subsidiary, Helibras, has delivered the first H225M helicopter in naval combat configuration to the Força Aeronaval da Marinha do Brasil (Brazilian naval aviation). This version, which was engineered in Brazil by Helibras, is the most complex version of the Caracal rotorcraft to date.
At the heart of the aircraft’s system is the N-TDMS (Naval Tactical Data Management System) that provides command and control of the tactical systems. It was developed in partnership with Brazil’s Atech and Airbus Defense and Space. The helicopter is fitted with a Telephonics AN/APS-143(V3) Ocean Eye surveillance radar with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and inverse SAR (ISAR) capability. It also has a Thales Chlio electro-optic turret and EWS IDAS-3 countermeasures system.
Giving the helicopter a long-range attack capability against large vessels is the MBDA AM39 Exocet Block 2 Mod 2 anti-ship missile, of which two can be carried. In an alternative configuration, the naval Caracal can carry one Exocet, with an inflight refueling probe mounted on the starboard side.
“We are very proud of this achievement, which proves the industrial and technological capability of the Airbus Helicopters teams in France and Brazil to deliver one of the most modern solutions in the world to the Brazilian Armed Forces," said Alberto Robles, Head of Latin America at Airbus Helicopters. "Designed to meet the most demanding requirements of the Brazilian Navy, the advanced anti-surface warfare and tactical capabilities open new mission capabilities for the H225M utility helicopter."
The Super Puma/Cougar/Caracal family is no stranger to the Exocet missile: the capability was tested on the AS332 Super Puma in the late 1980s, leading to its adoption by the navies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while the Chilean navy also bought five Exocet-armed AS532SC Cougars.
The missile-carrying helicopters for Brazil are part of a major contract that was signed in 2008 covering 50 Helibras-assembled H225Ms—locally designated H-15—in a variety of configurations for service with Brazil’s army, navy, and air force. Deliveries from this order have reached 39. The navy is taking 16, comprising eight UH-15 utility transports, three UH-15As outfitted for search and rescue, and five AH-15Bs in maritime combat configuration.
The first modified AH-15B made its first flight from Helibras’s Itajubá site on October 25, 2016. The final Exocet firing campaign was successfully completed in June, paving the way for qualification and now delivery. In Brazilian navy service the AH-15B is operated by Segunda Esquadrão de Helicópteros de Emprego Geral ‘Pégaso’ (HU-2, 2nd general purpose helicopter squadron) at São Pedro da Aldeia, around 85 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. HU-2 currently operates the UH-15/15As already delivered, plus AS332F/M Super Pumas, which have the local designation of UH-14.