France's DGA Delivers Final Interim H160 Helicopter to French Navy

Airbus Helicopters secured a €10 billion contract from the DGA in late 2021 for military-variant H160M helicopters
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 07:39 AM, March 4, 2024
  • 935
France's DGA Delivers Final Interim H160 Helicopter to French Navy
H160 helicopter

The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) delivered the sixth and final H160 helicopter to the French Navy on February 12, 2024.

This completes the order placed in 2020 and 2021 with Airbus Helicopters, Babcock France, and Safran Helicopter Engines. The aircraft reached the Lanvéoc-Poulmic naval aeronautical base.

Airbus Helicopters secured a €10 billion contract from the DGA in late 2021 for H160M helicopters. The deal includes prototype development and an initial delivery of 30 aircraft (21 for the army, 8 for the navy, and 1 for the air force). The French Ministry for the Armed Forces plans to acquire a total of 169 H160M helicopters, known as Guépard. Deliveries commence in 2027 for the French Army, with 49 helicopters earmarked for the French Navy, expecting the first batch in 2029. Simultaneously, the French Navy will operate an interim fleet of 6 commercial H160 helicopters for ten years.

The H160 helicopters are primarily designated for Maritime Rescue (Secmar) alert missions, replacing the Caïman Marine, Dauphin, and Panther helicopters. The redeployment of the latter enables them to fulfill their primary mission of aero-maritime combat aboard ships of the French Navy.

Specially configured for sea rescue, the H160 helicopters have been progressively deployed since 2023 from Cherbourg airport and the naval aeronautical bases of Lanvéoc-Poulmic and Hyères.

DGA said that the initial feedback on the helicopters has been positive. This feedback also contributes to the development of the military version of the aircraft, known as the H160M “Guépard.” The H160M is part of the Light Joint Helicopter (HIL) program, managed by the DGA.

Manufactured by Airbus Helicopters, with additional mission adaptation carried out by Babcock France, these H160s are equipped with a winch, the Euroflir 410 optronic system from Safran Electronics & Defense, and modular cabins allowing optimized layouts for missions of State action at sea. They are also certified for flight with night vision binoculars, crucial for night missions.

Babcock France supports these helicopters as part of a partnership with Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines, ensuring aircraft availability for sea rescue missions on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, as well as in the English Channel.

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