France Sign Contract to Acquire NH90 Helicopter in Special Forces Version

  • Our Bureau
  • 08:28 AM, October 12, 2020
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France Sign Contract to Acquire NH90 Helicopter in Special Forces Version
NH90 Special Forces version infographic @Airbus

NH Industries has signed with the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) a contract for the development of an upgraded version of the NH90 Tactical Troop Helicopter (TTH) for the French Special Forces (TFRA Standard 2).

The NH Industries consortium includes Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo and Fokker

Under the terms of the contract, the final batch of 10 NH90s already ordered by the French Ministry of Armed Forces, through the Armament General Directorate (DGA), will be delivered directly to this new standard at the beginning of 2025.

The NH 90 in TFRA Standard 2 configuration will incorporate a new-generation Electro-Optical System (EOS) EuroFLIR from Safran with displays and controls for both the pilots, commandos, gunners and load masters. The sensors will provide outputs to undertake updated mission planning on connected screens or tablets right up to the moment of egress.

In addition to the enhanced cockpit, the cabin will be upgraded with a new quick removable leaf doors system and fast-rope beam. This will provide extra capabilities through the rear of the aircraft with protective fire from the side-mounted machine guns.

As a complement to the existing equipment such as the M3M machine guns and external fuel tanks, other improvements serving the Special Forces and the French Army Aviation include new generation digital 3D map, folding boarding steps and additional ceiling-mounted rope anchor points.

In a second step it is foreseen that a Distributed Aperture System (DAS) composed of fixed infrared cameras displaying 3D vision in a new generation Helmet Mounted Sight Digital Display will also be incorporated, providing an unprecedented level of pilot support in low visibility, greatly enhancing the helicopter’s capability in degraded environmental conditions.

Nathalie Tarnaud-Laude, Head of NH90 programme at Airbus Helicopters and President of NHIndustries said: “This opportunity brings transformative digital technologies to the NH90 which will make it even more capable in precisely the kind of challenging conditions that can be faced today by Special Forces. We look forward to seeing it in service with the French Army and to offering it to other NH90 customers.”

France Sign Contract to Acquire NH90 Helicopter in Special Forces Version
NH90 TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) @DGA France

The NH90 helicopter’s TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) version offers the following improvements:

The addition of a new optronic observation system (the new generation Euroflir 410 from Safran Electronics & Defense) to allow improved detection of obstacles and threats, in tactical flight and in all night conditions;

The possibility of using the rear exit of the TTH for air rope operations with self-protection by the side doors;

various improvements to the hold of the NH90 to allow, among other things, the use of the rear exit in flight or the display of video from the optronic observation system for the benefit of personnel in the hold.   

In addition, electrical and mechanical provisions have been taken to subsequently integrate:

the upgrading of the TopOwl helmet from Thales, i.e. the switch from analog to digital display to offer new capabilities such as high-resolution video display of piloting and mission sensors (Eurofl'eye ™ & Euroflir ™), the development and display of augmented reality (synthetic terrain and obstacles) and the display of “tactical” 3D symbols. This equipment will be common with the next standard 3 of the Tiger attack helicopter;

a Eurofl'Eye  “wide field optronics system” developed by Safran Electronics & Defense to improve piloting conditions in degraded environments (such as landing at night or in a sandy environment) by offering independent fields of vision to the pilot and the co- pilot.

The evolutions of the NH90 FS, which arouse the interest of other countries already equipped with this helicopter, are not intended for the exclusive use of special forces. Indeed, most of these new capabilities will also be useful to the Army Light Aviation (ALAT) to increase the operational coverage of the TTH.

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