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Airbus Helicopters H125 Fennec (Eurocopter AS550)

France (1990)
Picture of Airbus Helicopters H125 Fennec (Eurocopter AS550) Light Utility Helicopter

The Eurocopter AS550 Fennec series has found a home in the inventories of many military forces around the globe.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus Helicopters H125 Fennec (Eurocopter AS550) Light Utility Helicopter.

 Entry last updated on 4/11/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©

The AS550 "Fennec" (H125) is a related militarized helicopter development of the Eurocopter AS350 "Ecureuil" series. It is a light-class, versatile dedicated utility platform intended for such roles as reconnaissance, transport and attack sorties (as well as special forces support) and has seen considerable popularity around the globe. Introduced in 1990, the Fennec was developed into two distinct flavors: the single-engined AS350 and AS550 family and the twin-engined AS355 and AS555 family. Original production forms were the single-engine AS350 L1/L2 "Ecureuil" and service introduction occurred in 1990.

The Fennec was originally a product of Aerospatiale (AS) before falling under the Eurocopter name. It is now a product of Airbus Helicopters and known under the "H125" designation and marketed as such.

Outwardly, the helicopter relies on a conventional design layout with the powerplant fitted over the roof of the passenger cabin and used to drive an overhead main rotor as well as a tail rotor (the latter via a drive shaft running through the tail stem). The engine exhausts over the tail unit. The tail unit is completed with vertical planes at its extreme aft end and horizontal planes along the midway span of the empennage. At front is side-by-side seating for two crew while the passenger cabin can contain up to four passengers. The frontal section of the aircraft is well-glazed for excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. Each pilot is afforded hinged automobile-style doors. The passenger section is also home to hinged door units though these are of larger area. The chin area can support an optics fit. The undercarriage is of a simple four-point skid arrangement reducing maintenance time and procurement costs.
Other single-engine forms have included the armed AS550 C2, the unarmed utility-minded AS550 U2 and the armed AS550 C3. The AS550 C3e is now the Airbus Helicopters "H125M".

The AS550 CS sports a crew of two with seating for four. It has an overall length of 42.5 feet with a width of 35 feet (main rotor included) and a height of 10.9 feet. Listed empty weight is 2,700lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight of 5,000lb. Power is from a single Turbomeca Arriel 2B turboshaft engine developing 847 horsepower driving a three-bladed main rotor over the fuselage and a two-bladed tail rotor at rear (offset to starboard). Performance includes a maximum speed of 155 miles per hour with a range out to 405 miles, a service ceiling up to 17,320 feet and a rate-of-climb of 2,030 feet-per-minute.

Twin-engine variants have gone on to include the original AS355 M/M2 Ecureuil 2, the armed AS555 AF, the 20mm cannon-equipped AS555 AN, the cannon-and-rocket-equipped AS555 AR, the unarmed naval-minded AS555 MN, the navalized AS555 MR, the armed naval variant AS555 SN and AS555 SR, the training and utility AS555 UN, the utility-minded AS555 UR and the navalized AS555 SP.

Armed versions can carry the 20mm GIAT M621 series automatic cannon as well as 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun pods. There is also provision for seven-shot or twelve-shot 70mm rocket pods. Some attack forms have also mounted the BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) series weapon.

Operators of the Fennec family of helicopters includes the Argentine Army, the Brazilian Army, the Colombian Navy, the Royal Danish Air Force, the Ecuadorian Army, the French Army and Navy services, the Indonesian Army, the Royal Malaysian Army, the Mexican Navy, the Pakistani Army and the Royal Thai Army. The Republic of Singapore Air Force is a former operator.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (152mph).

    Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
Graph showcases the Airbus Helicopters H125's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
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Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

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Airbus Helicopters H125 Specifications
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Year: 1990
Status: Active, In-Service
Type: Light Utility Helicopter
Manufacturer(s): Eurocopter / Airbus Helicopters - France
Production: 550
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 1
Length: 35.93 ft (10.95 m)
Width: 42.49 ft (12.95 m)
Height: 10.99 ft (3.35 m)
Empty Weight: 2,690 lb (1,220 kg)
MTOW: 4,960 lb (2,250 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Turbomeca Arriel 2B turboshaft engine developing 847 horsepower and driving a three-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 152 mph (245 kph; 132 kts)
Maximum Range: 404 mi (650 km; 351 nm)
Service Ceiling: 17,323 ft (5,280 m; 3.28 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,030 ft/min (619 m/min)

1 x 20mm GIAT M621 automatic cannon
2 x 7.62mm machine gun pods
2 x 12.7mm machine gun pods
2 x 70mm FZ220 rocket pods
2 x 68mm rocket pods
2 x BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs)

Operators List
Argentina; Brazil; Colombia; Denmark; Ecuador; France; Indonesia; Malaysia; Mexico; Pakistan; Singapore; Thailand

Series Model Variants
• H125 - Base Series Designation under Airbus label.
• AS555 - Former base Series Designation under Eurocopter label.
• H125M - Light armed variant by Airbus
• AS350 L1/L2 "Ecureuil" - Original military model; single engine.
• AS550 C2 - Armed variant; single engine.
• AS550 U2 - Unarmed variant; single engine.
• AS550 C3 - Armed variant; single engine.
• AS355 M/M2 "Ecureuil" - Original military model; twin engine.
• AS555 AF - Armed variant; twin engine.
• AS555 AN - Armed military variant; provision for 20mm automatic cannon; twin engine.
• AS555 AR - Cannon / rocket armed light gunship; twin engine.
• AS555 MN - Unarmed navy model; twin engine.
• AS555 MR - Navalized variant; twin engine.
• AS555 SN - Armed navy model; twin engine.
• AS555 SR - Armed navy model; twin engine.
• AS555 UN - Training / utility variant; twin engine.
• AS555 UR - Utility platform; twin engine.
• AS555 SP - Navalized variant; twin engine; twin engine.

Supported Weapon Systems
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft machine gun pod
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-tank guided missile
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod