The EC725 Caracal helicopter can operate in combat environment.

The Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) EC725 Caracal is a long-range tactical transport helicopter. It evolved from the Eurocopter Puma/Cougar family. It was specially developed to meet a French Air Force requirement for a specialist helicopter for combat search and rescue operations.

The new helicopter made its first flight in 2000. First helicopter was delivered to the French Air Force in 2005. Later it has been adopted by the French Army. It has seen combat in with French armed forces in Afghanistan and Mali. The Caracal has been exported to Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand. Some other countries ordered this helicopter.

The EC725 is based on AS532 Cougar. It has new fuselage with improved shape and is fitted with new 5-blade composite main rotor. This helicopter can carry 28 troops or 12 stretchers. Alternatively it can carry 5 670 kg of payload internally. External payload capacity is around 4 500 kg.

This transport is flown by one or two pilots, depending on the mission. The EC 725 can be used not only for combat search and rescue, but also for troop and cargo transport, special forces transport, or casualty evacuation. This multi-mission helicopter can be fitted with add-on armor plating and can operate in combat environment.

Also the Caracal can be armed with window-mounted 7.62 mm machine guns. It can be also fitted with side-mounted pods with 68 mm rockets. Each pod holds 19 rockets. There is a search radar and nose-mounted FLIR unit. These give the helicopter day and night search and rescue capability.

The EC725 is powered by two Turbomeca Makila 2A1 turboshafts, developing 2 382 shp each. This helicopter is fitted with in-flight refueling probe for extended operational range. There is also an ASW version of this helicopter. It can be fitted with MU90 Impact aerial-launch torpedo.


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