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France finally signs off on huge H160 Joint Light Helicopter order

23rd December 2021 - 15:04 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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France has committed to buying 169 Airbus H160M helicopters (Photo: Airbus Helicopters)

France has officially signed off on a huge helicopter order.

France has approved an order for 169 Airbus H160M helicopters under the country's Joint Light Helicopter (HIL) programme. 

Announcing the move in a series of social media posts published on 22 December, Florence Parly, French minister for the armed forces, said that the H160M would equip the French Air and Space Force, Army and Navy from 2027 onward and suggested the acquisition was a strong example of French military modernisation.

She added that the new helicopters will replace five different fleets and as a result of them being operated with three services, improved availability and reduced maintenance costs would follow. 

Airbus also noted in a 22 December statement that deliveries of a first batch of aircraft will cover 21 for the French Army, eight for the navy and one for the air and space force. 

'The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force,' added the manufacturer. 

Weapons to be integrated on the helicopter include the MBDA Sea Venom/ANL anti-ship missile, pod mounted and door mounted guns, according to Airbus. 

Shephard previously reported that H160M prototype activities were due to begin in 2023 with first deliveries originally set for 2026. 

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