Forecast International is projecting that 4,796 medium/heavy military rotorcraft will be produced between 2013 and 2022.
The Connecticut-based market research firm estimates the value of this production at $114.4 billion in constant 2013 U.S. dollars. The company defines a medium/heavy rotorcraft as one having a gross weight of 6,804 kilograms (15,000 pounds) or greater.
Annual medium/heavy military rotorcraft production has grown steadily since 2005. The Forecast International study projects that this growth will continue into 2013, when production is forecast to reach 615 rotorcraft. Thereafter, however, the study projects that yearly production will enter into a period of gradual decline, falling to only 380 rotorcraft by the year 2022.
This anticipated decline is attributable to several factors. The budgetary environment in the United States and many other nations has become severe, and high levels of government debt are forcing officials to look for areas, such as military budgets, in which to reduce spending.
Meanwhile, a number of key military rotorcraft acquisition programs are well into their production runs and will soon run their course. Other programs have been stretched out, with smaller annual procurement lots. At the same time, few major new procurement programs have emerged that would help keep overall build rates growing. Order backlogs at manufacturers are declining. As the market shrinks, the competition among manufacturers for market share will become ever more fierce.
Beyond the forecast timeframe, the study points to the U.S. military’s Future Vertical Lift program as being especially important to the long-term future of the military rotorcraft industry. The FVL project involves the development and manufacture of a new rotorcraft family to meet future U.S. attack, scout, and utility rotorcraft needs. Service entry is tentatively planned for around 2030. U.S. military acquisition of FVL-based rotorcraft, combined with possible export sales, means that the market potential for such a rotorcraft family is substantial. According to Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski, “The contractor or contractor team ultimately selected to produce the FVL series could be in a position to eventually dominate the military rotorcraft market.”