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Research Questions

  1. What types of missions does the US want partner nations to accomplish with their helicopter fleet?
  2. What are the capabilities of various helicopters to execute these missions?
  3. What are the most cost-effective helicopters for accomplishing these missions?

Department of Defense assistance to partner nations often entails supporting their helicopter fleets. In some cases, these fleets are composed of nonstandard rotary-wing aircraft, usually Soviet-era or Russian, European, Chinese, or outdated American equipment. Partner use of these aircraft poses particular problems for U.S. security cooperation activities; understandably, the U.S. military does not have a large base of expertise to support these aircraft in such areas as flight crew training, maintenance, and supply chain management. RAND's National Defense Research Institute identified the aviation requirements of important partner nations, applied this understanding to an analysis of the relative efficiencies of a variety of helicopter platforms, and used these findings to quantify the cost-effectiveness implications of migrating partner nation fleets to alternative aircraft.

Key Findings

Utility Helicopters

  • Our analysis indicates that among utility platforms, the Boeing CH-47D, Sikorksy S-61T, Eurocopter AS-332L1 Super Puma, and the AgustaWestland AW139 are consistently more cost-effective than the reference helicopter, the Mi-17v5. The Sikorsky S-61T+ performs similarly well, but is in development.
  • In these cases, the margin of increase in cost-effectiveness over the Mi-17v5 often is such that these aircraft achieve greater efficiency even when additional tail requirements are applied.
  • Several small utility helicopters also had good cost-effectiveness, including the Eurocopter EC-145 (LUH-72A Lakota) and the AgustaWestland AW109.

Attack Helicopters

  • For attack aircraft, the AH-1Z and the AW129 are able to accomplish many of the same routes as the Mi-17v5. That makes these aircraft feasible candidates for providing armed escort, and for overwatch of mobility helicopters.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Mission-Task Development

  • Chapter Three

    Effectiveness Analysis

  • Chapter Four

    Cost Analysis

  • Chapter Five

    Cost-Effectiveness Integration Analysis and Results

  • Chapter Six

    Summary Findings

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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