Airbus launches HForce upgrade for Hungarian H145M fleet

Airbus Helicopters announced on December 18 that it has started to retrofit the Hungarian Air Force’s eventual fleet of 20 H145M multi-role utility helicopters with the company’s HForce weapon management system.

The Hungarian Air Force received its first H145M in November 2019 and has since accepted 16 of the 20 helicopters ordered under the nation’s Zrínyi 2026 military modernisation programme. Airbus Helicopters will retrofit Hungary’s entire H145M fleet with the HForce weapon management system, which will enable the platform to be equipped with a range of ballistic or guided weapons. As of December 2020, the company has already retrofitted three helicopters with the HForce package, with two more aircraft scheduled to undergo the process in March 2021.

Hungarian H145M [Airbus]
As of December 2020, the Hungarian Air Force operates 16 of the 20 Airbus Helicopters H145M multi-role utility helicopters from Szolnok in the nation's Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok county. Airbus 

Col Tamás Bali, deputy commander of the Hungarian Air Force, said: “We’ve already received the systems, but the training will start next year, around June. We should then be ready to use the HForce system by around July.”

Under its Zrínyi 2026 programme, Hungary has acquired the H145M to replace its ageing Soviet-era fleets of Mil Mi-8/Mi-17 tactical transport helicopters and Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters. “We used those helicopters for as long as we could, but we were flying a technology that was created 60 years ago,” Bali added.

“We had to renew our fleet to communicate and work properly with the Hungarian Land and Special Forces. There were many helicopters in the European market, but the H145 was at the top of the list. Going from Soviet helicopters to the H145M has been a big step up: it’s like a brand new era for us,” he said.

H145M [Airbus Helicopters]
Three of Hungary's eventual fleet of 20 Airbus Helicopters H145M multi-role utility helicopters had been retrofitted with the company's HForce weapon management system by the end of December 2020. Two more aircraft are expected to undergo the process in March 2021. Airbus

Hungary’s H145M helicopters are equipped with a fast roping system, hoist, dual cargo hook, disaster management kit, high-performance camera, ballistic protection and an electronic countermeasures system.

Bali added: “The H145M will allow us to take over the search and rescue (SAR) missions currently assumed by transport helicopters in Hungary. It will also be used for special forces missions. We’ll be able to perform reconnaissance missions and command and control (RC2) using the sensors to communicate in real time with the teams on the ground.”

Airbus’ HForce package gives Hungary’s H145M fleet a greater combat capability. It allows the platform to be equipped with 20mm cannon and 12.7mm machine gun pods, along with air-to-air/air-to-ground missiles, and 60mm and 70mm guided and unguided rockets. The weapon management system also includes a monocular helmet-mounted sight and display (HMSD) and an electro-optical system – both of which assist the pilot and gunner in identifying and engaging targets.