September 22, 2022 By Helicopters Staff
The French Navy has taken delivery of the first of six H160s that will perform search and rescue missions. The aircraft is part of the interim fleet that will be delivered by the partnership formed between Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines.
“The delivery of the first H160 to a military customer is a major milestone for the H160 program,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “This is the first public service version of the H160 to be delivered worldwide. Furthermore, the delivery takes place soon after two H160s entered into service this summer, in Brazil for the private and business aviation segment and in Japan for news gathering missions.”
In 2020 the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters, Babcock and Safran for the delivery of four H160s in a search and rescue (SAR) configuration. In 2021, the DGA confirmed an option for two more H160s. The first H160 for the French Navy was delivered to Babcock by Airbus Helicopters in May 2022. It has since then been modified into a light military configuration by Babcock. The modular cabin was also adapted for SAR operations and a Safran Euroflir 410 electro optical system was integrated.
The H160 will gradually start operating from the Lanveoc-Poulmic naval air station (Brittany), Cherbourg airport (Normandy), and the naval air station in Hyères (Provence). Airbus explains the interim fleet of H160s will ensure critical search and rescue missions while awaiting the delivery of the H160M Guépard.
In the frame of the French Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) programme, 169 H160M Guépards are foreseen to replace five types of helicopters in service with the French armed forces. 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.