By Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.
Forecast International is projecting that 1,241 light military rotorcraft will be produced by manufacturers during the 10-year period from 2016 through 2025. The value of this production is estimated at $19.7 billion, as calculated in constant 2016 U.S. dollars. We define a light military rotorcraft as one having a maximum gross weight of less than 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb).
Our projections indicate that, after declining since 2012, annual production of light military rotorcraft will increase to 190 units in 2016 and an impressive 216 units in 2017. This rise will result from short-term production increases in a number of programs in order to meet upward ticks in planned deliveries. However, this period of growth is expected to be short-lived, with annual output starting to decline again as soon as 2018. Yearly production is projected to fall to double-digit levels by 2022 and remain there through 2025.
Foremost among the various trends affecting the light military rotorcraft market is the fact that many nations around the world have been reducing defense spending. Over the next few years, global instability and a need to recapitalize equipment inventories could lead to slight, or even moderate, increases in defense spending in many countries. Even with stable or moderately rising defense budgets, though, the light military rotorcraft sector may not substantially benefit from this. A number of key rotorcraft acquisitions are running their course, and recent budgetary pressures have forced some of these programs to be reduced in scope. At the same time, few new-start rotorcraft acquisition programs have been formally launched, as resources are being directed to other areas.
Even with a shrinking market, though, various sales opportunities will still exist around the world. Over the next 10 years, customers in Asia will account for an increasing share of the global market.
During the forecast timeframe, Airbus Helicopters is projected to lead the market in unit production, producing 316 light military helicopters for a 25.5 percent market share. Bell Helicopter is forecast to be second, with production of 226 helicopters for an 18.2 percent share.
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