In September 2012, the Thai Air Force signed an undisclosed contract with EADS Eurocopter for 4 EC725 medium search and rescue (SAR) helicopters. The twin-engine EC725 Cougar features a unique digital 4-axis autopilot, which is very useful for precise positioning during retrievals. It’s also a good deal larger than the Army’s H-60 Black Hawks and UH-1 Hueys, with seating on board for 25 persons. Based on contracts elsewhere, a price of around $180-220 million seems likely. Deliveries will take place in 2015, at which point Thailand will join their neighbor Malaysia and Singapore as local military operators of the Super Puma family.
There’s also a larger competition underway for business within Thailand, as the country looks to modernize its Vietnam-era helicopter fleet. Read “Huey’s Departure: Thailand’s New Helicopters” for full coverage, including subsequent Thai EC725 purchases.