Air Transportation: Who Has What Helicopters


April 8, 2014: Not surprisingly, for the country that pioneered the development and production of helicopters, American models comprise 48 percent of the military helicopters now in service. The most common, with 18 percent of the military market, is the S-70 (also known as the UH/SH/MH-60 Black Hawk) a ten ton transport that replaced the UH-1 (a 4.6 ton helicopter developed in the 1950s and was known as the “Huey” during the Vietnam War) in the 1980s. However the UH-1 still has 8 percent of the market and has been much upgraded and is no longer manufactured. But many firms specialize in refurbishing UH-1s and Huey will be around for a few decades more. The civilian version of the UH-1, the 5.3 ton Bell 212/412 has four percent of the military market and is still in production. The 22 ton CH-47 is a heavy transports (carrying up to ten tons) and has five percent of the market and the smaller (1.3 ton) OH-58 and MD500 are scout helicopters and each has four percent of the market. The 11 ton AH-64 has five percent of the market.

Russian Cold War era helicopters have 16 percent of the market. These include the 11 ton Mi-8/17 transport with 11 percent and the 12 ton Mi-24 gunship with five percent. The rest of the military helicopters are mainly European models although China and India are beginning to introduce their own designs.

The United States has the largest military helicopter fleet, with 30 percent of the world total. Russia is second with 5 percent followed by South Korea and China (4 percent each), Japan, India and France (3 percent each) and then Turkey, Germany and Italy with 2 percent each. By tonnage lift the U.S. has about half the world total because of its large number of heavier transports.


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