Italian Navy’s NH90 helicopter deliveries complete, mission simulation centre established
October 5, 2023 By Helicopters Staff
The Italian Navy achieved a major rotorcraft capability enhancement milestone with the completion of deliveries of its NH90 helicopters combined with a dedicated simulation centre for its NH90 crews. The 46th SH-90A ASW/ASuW aircraft, assembled at Leonardo’s facility in Venice Tessera, has been deployed at the Italian Navy’s Maristaeli Luni Base and presented during an official ceremony on 29 September.
The helicopter also joins a fleet of 10 MH-90As optimized for tactical transport duties and special operations bringing the total fleet of NH90s to 56 in service with this prime operator. The first Italian Navy’s NH90 was delivered in 2011. Since then, the whole fleet has logged in excess of 35,000 flight hours in multiple operations in Italy and internationally.
NHIndustries is responsible for the design, manufacture and support of the NH90 helicopter. Noted as the largest rotorcraft Joint Venture in European history, NHIndustries is owned by Airbus Helicopters (62.5 per cent), Leonardo (32 per cent) and GKN Fokker (5.5 per cent).
The completion of NH90 deliveries to the Italian Navy occurs as a Full Crew Simulation Training Centre is established and opened at the base, featuring a dedicated Level D Full Flight Simulator of the type in full MR 1 configuration, which Leonardo notes as being representative of the latest avionics standard. The facility was fully developed by Leonardo and tailored to the Italian Navy’s needs.
The new simulation environment allows for the SH-90 and MH-90 crews, including both pilots and specialized personnel, to be trained with the highest level of fidelity and accuracy (one simulation hour being equal to one real flight hour) to carry out missions in any kind of operational scenarios. Leonardo explains the system is suitable for further evolution, such as the possibility to be linked to other simulation assets in order to develop joint and multi-domain networked mission training. Additionally, the Full Crew Simulation Training Centre will deliver training services to NH90 crews from other countries.
“The completion of the NH90 deliveries and the handover of this one-of-a-kind simulation environment marks a major step forward, which further reinforces our long-established partnership with the Italian Navy,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters MD. “I want to thank all Navy and industry personnel who made these results possible.”
Leonardo is responsible for, or contributes to, the design, production and integration of a wide range of critical NH90 components and systems. These include the rear fuselage, main gear box hydraulic system, upper modes of the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), plant management system, power plant integration, NFH mission system (integrating sonar, radar, electro-optics, tactical link, electronic warfare system, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator, mission video recording and weapon systems management including air-to-surface missiles and torpedoes for Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and Anti-Submarine (ASW) missions. Leonardo also integrates additional capabilities such as the Laser Obstacle Avoidance Monitoring (LOAM) system and the LEOSS-T electro-optical system as well as pintle-mounted Gatling-type guns, for specific customers.
The largest military helicopter program in Europe, the NH90 holds a full-composite airframe with a large cabin, providing a strong power-to-weight ratio and its wide range of role equipment. It features a quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control system for reduced pilot workload and enhanced flight handling characteristics. The NH90 is available in two main variants: one specified for naval operations, the NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) and the TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) for land based operations. As of today, over 500 NH90 helicopters, a mixture of both variants, have been delivered worldwide carrying out missions in a range of weather and environmental conditions, over land and sea, and have amassed in excess of 380,000 flight hours.