PARIS — Airbus Helicopters announced the launch of a development program to build the X6 helicopter that would eventually replace the Super Puma and have a military variant delivered in 15 years.
Airbus officials said Tuesday the X6 will first be developed for the civilian market, specifically the oil and gas industry. The company said it would later develop a military variants of theÂ next-generation heavy-lift rotorcraft.
The X6 will be designed to carry 19 passengers and feature fly by wire controls, which is a first for Airbus.
Airbus said Tuesday that it expects to be able to deliver the first X6 helicopters to the commercial market by 2022-2023.
Speculation had been building ahead of the announcement as company executives had been hinting at a replacement for the popular H225 Super Puma helicopter and the NH90 helicopter.
Later this year, Sweden will receive its first NH90 helicopter that it will use to hunt Russian submarines, Swedish officials told Defense News Sunday. However, Sweden was not impressed with Airbus and its execution of the program.
“We have not been pleased with this program, it is very late,” Swedish official Lena Erixon told Tom Kington of Defense News.
Michael Hoffman can be reached at Mike.Hoffman@military.com