Forecast International projects that 5,213 medium/heavy military rotorcraft will be produced between 2014 and 2023, according to the company’s “The Market for Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft.”
The value of this production is $127 billion in constant fiscal 2014 U.S. dollars. The Connecticut-based market research firm defines a medium/heavy military rotorcraft as one having a gross weight of 6,804 kilograms (15,000 pounds) or greater.
Annual production of medium/heavy military rotorcraft grew for nine consecutive years from 2005 through 2013, increasing by nearly 300 percent over this timeframe. However, due to a number of factors working in combination, production in the segment is now poised to enter a period of decline. The Forecast International study indicates that yearly output in the segment will decline from 653 rotorcraft in 2014 to only 437 in 2023.
The medium/heavy military rotorcraft market is being impacted by decreasing defense spending on the part of many countries throughout the globe. This notably includes the United States, which accounts for a disproportionately large share of demand in this market.
In the United States, military rotorcraft acquisition programs are being stretched out, resulting in smaller annual production lots. The military drawdown in the wake of the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts is one reason for this situation. Other reasons include competing domestic budget priorities and ongoing efforts to reduce the U.S. budget deficit. And even without these pressures, the current modernization cycle in U.S. military rotorcraft procurement would still be nearing an end.
In many other nations as well, once robust military rotorcraft procurement programs are being stretched out, reduced in scope, or even terminated. In addition, as in the U.S., few new procurement programs are emerging to help keep military rotorcraft build rates up at the world’s manufacturers.
Despite the anticipated market decline, however, the medium/heavy military sector will remain a lucrative market for manufacturers, generating more production value than any other segment of the rotorcraft market. Indeed, during the 2014-2023 timeframe, the medium/heavy military segment will generate more than twice as much production value as the light commercial rotorcraft sector, the next most lucrative segment. According to Forecast International’s senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski, “Even though it will decline in size over the next 10 years, the medium/heavy military rotorcraft market is where rotorcraft manufacturers will play for the biggest stakes and hope for the biggest payoffs.”