Airbus Helicopter’s Brazilian subsidiary Helibras and missile manufacturer MBDA have begun work to integrate the AM39 Exocet B2M2 anti-ship missile onto locally produced EC725 helicopters.
Eight of the Brazilian navy’s 16 EC725 Caracals will be modified to carry the anti-ship missile with integration of the weapon and the associated mission equipment and systems by Helibras.
Both Helibras and Avibras have begun integration trials of the Exocet onto the EC725 using an aircraft on the production line in Brazil. While in France, Airbus Helicopters and MBDA have been carrying out aerodynamic and physical analysis of how the weapon would be employed from the helicopter.
The aircraft will be able to carry and launch two missiles using pylons on the side of the forward fuselage.
The Exocet weapons will be produced in Brazil following the signing of a 60 million real ($27 million) contract with Avibras and the Brazilian navy. The modernized Exocets are fully digital and will feature 50% Brazilian content with a locally produced rocket motor. A similar motor has already been adopted for surface-launched MM40 Exocets owned by the Brazilian navy. Avibras has completed three successful tests of the missile with the new motor from the Brazilian navy corvette, Barroso.
Helibras is currently building 50 EC725s for the Brazilian armed forces under the H-XBR program, with helicopters being delivered to the air force, navy and army, as well as a handful for VIP transport.
The company has built a new assembly line in Itajuba for the program, which was officially opened in October 2012. Airbus, then Eurocopter, made Helibras a Level 1 authorized design organization within the Eurocopter group alongside the company’s other centers in France, Germany and Spain. Helibras has plans to launch an indigenously developed helicopter by the early 2020s.
Deliveries of all 50 EC725s to the Brazilian armed forces are due to be completed by 2017.