The Eurocopter EC725 helicopter series was designed to a French Air Force requirement for a military-grade long-range Search & Rescue SAR) platform. Eurocopter took to modifying the existing AS532 "Cougar" series (following the preceding SA 330 "Puma" marks)as the AS 532 A2 "Cougar". Formal trials of the design were conducted from 1996 to 1999 to which the development was found lacking in some areas. This prompted a second submission - the EC 725 "Super Cougar" - to emerge. The helicopter was fitted with 2 x Turbomeca Makila series turboshaft engines rated at 2,400 horsepower each and powering a five-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor. With a first flight recorded in January of 2001, the type was then adopted into service with the French Air Force in 2005 as the "Eurocopter EC 725 Caracal" at the cost of 15 million Euros per unit.
Key to the EC 725 design are its long-range capabilities and medium-lift qualities. While initially developed for the SAR role, the type has seen a steadily increasing service in roles to include special forces "taxi", humanitarian rescue, troop transport and VIP transport. As such, the type can be made to transport up to 28 infantry, 12,500lbs of cargo or 12 stretchers (with medical personnel for when in the MEDEVAC role). When optionally armed, the EC 725 can be equipped with a pair of window-mounted general purpose machine guns (FN MAG or equivalent) or side-mounted 68mm rocket pods or side-mounted 20mm GIAT cannon pods.
The EC 725 is piloted by two personnel under a heavily framed cockpit followed by a crew chief in the aft cabin (and window gunners if applicable). The cockpit is fully-digital making use of color map display and crisp LCD monitors. The cabin takes up much of the internal volume of the fuselage at amidships with the turboshaft engines mounted on the cabin roof. The engines drive the main blades in a conventional manner with a drive shaft running within the empennage stalk to the tail rotor. The undercarriage consists of two main single-wheeled legs and a double-tired nose leg. An in-flight refueling probe can be fitted to the front starboard side of the aircraft for in-flight refueling thusly extended operational ranges considerably. Various kits are available to customers to outfit the EC 725 for the required mission role.
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February 2020 - The Chinook is being considered by the French Air Force as a possible replacement for its aging fleet of Caracal helicopters.
Typically none. Though optional armament includes any one of the following packages:
2 x 7.62mm Fabrique Nationale FN MAG General Purpose Machine Guns on pintle mountings at side windows.
2 x 68mm 19-shot rocket pods on external side mounts.
2 x 20mm GIAT automatic cannon pods on external side mounts.
H725 - Series Designation under Airbus Helicopters brand label.
EC725 "Caracal" ("Super Cougar") - Base Series Designation under Eurocopter brand label; base troop transport.
EC 725 VIP - VIP transport with seating for up to 12.
EC725 MEDEVAC - Medical Evacuation Model with room for 12 x stretchers and 4 medical attendants.
EC725 SAR - Search and Rescue variant outfitted with applicable recovery equipment.
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