French Navy acquires two more H160s
By Naomi Szeben
The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has confirmed the acquisition of two more H160s for the French Navy.
These aircraft joins the existing four H160s in the fleet. The six H160s will be Search and Rescue (SAR) and will gradually start operating from May 2022 from Lanveoc-Poulmic naval air station (Britany), Cherbourg airport (Normandy) and Hyères naval air station (Provence).
The H160s were ordered in 2018 and will be maintained and equipped by Babcock in partnership with Airbus Helicopters, and Safran Helicopters Engines. Built by Airbus Helicopters, the six H160s will be equipped with a winch and a modular cabin that can be optimized for each mission. The H160s will be certified for use of night vision goggles which are necessary for winching operations at night.
The H160M “Guépard” deliveries for the French Joint Light Helicopter (HIL), these H160s will take over the SAR missions currently conducted by the NH90s and Panthers , allowing these combat helicopters to fulfill their main tasks at sea on board combat vessels. The HIL programme foresees replacing current helicopters in the French armed forces with 169 H160Ms, “Guépard,”
The French Navy’s operational feedback with these H160s will benefit the design of the military version of the aircraft and its associated support system.
The six H160s will be modified into a light military configuration by Babcock, a provider of critical, complex engineering services to governments, to answer to the needs of the French Navy. Babcock will integrate the Safran Electronics & Defense new generation electro-optical system, Euroflir 410.
The H160 medium twin engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines, is modular by design in order to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.