PAS 2023 – Airbus inks a contract with Saudi Arabia for up to 100 H175 helicopters

Paolo Valpolini

On Day 2 of the Paris Air Show an agreement for the acquisition of up to 100 H175 super-medium helicopters with Scopa Industries, the agreement including a complete package of local content

Saudi Arabia is to become the main customer for the Airbus Helicopter H175 7.8 tonnes MTOW chopper, capable to host up to 18 passengers in the commercial configuration and up to 16 in the military one, plus the crew of two.

EDR On-Line spoke with Mohamed Al-Ajlan, the deputy board chairman of the Ajlan & Bros Group that controls Scopa, one of the main defence industries of Saudi Arabia.

Airbus’ H175 belongs to the super-medium class of helicopters – combining long range with smooth flight qualities. It takes customers to the next level in terms of comfort, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

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“We selected Airbus as it is the leading company in this field, therefore we signed this agreement that is just the first step of a long-term and stable partnership,” Mr. Al-Ajlan said. “The agreement is worth 25 billion Saudi Riyal, the equivalent of 6 billion Euro. The next step will see the expansion of the production in order to export helicopters in the region, and we aim at trebling the value of the agreement reaching 20 billion Euro.”

The agreement is in line with the Vision 2030 plan launched by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, with the aim of diversifying the Saudi economy, which until now has mostly een based on oil export.

“This agreement will allow creating around 8,500 direct jobs in Saudi Arabia, and three times more indirect jobs,” Mr. Al-Ajlan told EDR On-Line. “As for the local content, it will be initially set at a certain level, our aim being to increase it up to 65%.”

EDR On-Line understood that a new facility will be created, where initially helicopters customisation will be carried out, as well as maintenance repair and overhaul. Customisation will play an important role, as the 100 helicopters will be fitted out in different versions and for different roles.

“These H175 will be used by many entities, both in the military and in the civilian world, in roles such as medical evacuation, emergency support, oil and gas transport and so on,” Mohamed Al-Ajlan concluded.

In perspective it is quite possible that once personnel will have reached the right level of technical skills, assembly and partial production might be delocalised in Saudi Arabia.

Photos Airbus and J. Roukoz