DH - Defence Helicopter

Eurosatory 2018: Tri-service H160M designs presented

13th June 2018 - 16:00 GMT | by Beth Maundrill in Paris

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Airbus Helicopters has used Eurosatory to highlight its militarised H160 platform which is currently undergoing de-risking studies.

The aircraft is being developed for the French military’s Joint Light Helicopter (HIL) requirements to replace various fleets of aircraft including the SA 341/342 Gazelle, Alouette III, AS 365 Dauphin SP and AS 555 Fennec.

Speaking to Shephard Jean-Eric Vague, operational marketing at Airbus Helicopters, said that the differences between the H160M compared with the civil version include: modified landing gear for ship landing; the addition of a naval radar; electronic support measures and a tactical display for the operators.

Potential operational uses include command and control missions for the army and anti-surface warfare for the navy.

The naval version will have foldable rotorblades which will be the blue edge design found on the commercial H160. The aircraft will also be equipped with a gate machine gun, an  missile, tactical radar and manned-unmanned teaming capabilities with UAVs such as the Airbus VSR700.

Meanwhile, the army variant will house a laser-guided rocket, machine gun, cannon, EOS imaging sensor and multi-domain communication capabilities.

The air force has a requirement for air-to-air refuelling capabilities as well as airborne early warning and control.

In addition, the helicopter will have the flexibility to be reconfigured for the different services, depending on the mission requirement at the time.

At the moment France is looking to acquire 170 of the aircraft, around 80 for the army, 50 for the navy and 40 for the air force.

Vague said that the company is expecting firm orders in 2022. The first deliveries will not happen until after 2025.

He added that at this time the company does not have any prospects for exports saying ‘we will satisfy our French customer first.’ However, export discussions are likely to come in the future.

The H160 was launched as a civil utility helicopter in March 2015 as a successor to the company’s Dauphin family.

Airbus is powering ahead with development of the civil variant and has carried out various flight test with first deliveries scheduled for 2019. The H160 comes in at 6t, has a fuselage of 3.79m and a maximum speed of 175kts.

Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced in March 2017 that the MoD intended to use the H160 as the HIL solution.

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