Finnish NH90 helicopters demonstrate operational capabilities
The multi-role NH90 helicopter's ability to support large troop movements over long distances were demonstrated during the Finnish Defense Forces' main field exercise this month, in which 157 soldiers were transported 320 kilometers during two operational rotations.
For this exercise, the Finnish NH90 Utti Jaeger Regiment's Helicopter Battalion was given a mission to relocate 157 conscripts of the Guard Jaeger Regiment from the Helsinki area to Kauhava.
Eight NH90 TTHs (tactical transport helicopters) - along with an additional helicopter in reserve - were assigned to realize this ambitious mission, which was accomplished in five hours during two rotations. The operation involved a total of 40 flight hours with an 80 percent availability, and it by far outperformed the Finnish Defense Forces' expectations. Two hot refueling were conducted during the operation, with four helicopters being refueled at same time during servicing lasting only nine minutes.
"The NH90 TTH is technologically very advanced, very fast and very agile compared to any tactical transport helicopter in the world," said Lieutenant Colonel Ari Pellinen, Commanding Officer of the Helicopter Battalion. "For the pilot, it is a real pleasure to fly - like a high-performance sports car with 16 seats in the back."
The success of this massive troop airlift exercise demonstrated the competences of the Finnish Defense Forces' pilots, mechanics and technicians with respect to planning, execution and maintenance of the NH90. In addition, it was the result of a strong cooperation between all actors who have contributed to supporting each phase of this military exercise - which was named "Pyörremyrsky" (the Finnish word for "whirlwind") and performed on June 8.
"The support of Eurocopter for this exercise was critically important as increased flow of spare parts, and Patria Helicopters Utti has been of great assistance in reducing the workload of the Battalion's technical personnel," Lt. Col. Pellinen added. "During the exercise, the maintenance actions were carried out by Battalion's own technical personnel. Eurocopter's On-Site-Support (OSS) in Utti has constantly been important in providing complementary instructions and enhancing the communications between Eurocopter and the end user."
To date, the Utti Jaeger Regiment's Helicopter Battalion has received 10 NH90 TTHs out of the 20 ordered by Finland from the NHIndustries consortium. "The achievement of this tremendous troop transportation by the Finnish Defense Forces marks an important milestone in the NH90's successful fielding," stated Wolfgang Schoder, the Executive Vice President for Programs at Eurocopter.
The NH90 is a 9-10 metric ton-class helicopter designed to modernize and boost the capability of tactical transport and anti-submarine combat fleets. It is a fly-by-wire, all-composite aircraft with the highest crashworthiness standards. Equipped with a large cabin, a rear ramp, weather radar and forward looking infrared sensor, the NH90 is capable of carrying two pilots, two loadmasters and 18 combat troops over ranges of up to 900 km. at maximum speeds of 300 km./hr.
Firm orders for all NH90 versions have reached 529 aircraft from 14 countries worldwide. The NH90 is the biggest military helicopter program ever launched in Europe, and also is the most complex - with 23 different variants being produced. NH90 production progressing well, with six assembly lines now operational in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Finland and Australia. To date, 74 NH90s have been delivered to customers. The NH90 program is managed by NHIndustries, a consortium owned by AgustaWestland (32 percent), Eurocopter (62.5 percent), and Fokker Aerostructures (5.5 percent).
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