Tag Archives: Airbus Helicopters

French Navy

The French Navy has taken delivery of the first of six H160s that will perform search and rescue (SAR) 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.

H160
French Navy takes delivery of first H160 for search and rescue missions

«The delivery of the first H160 to a military customer is a major milestone for the H160 programme», 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», he added. «With this H160 we will strengthen our partnership with the French Navy, delivering the right helicopter for its critical search and rescue missions. Together with our partners, we will also ensure that the H160 is ready when needed».

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). 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.

Babcock, in partnership with Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopters Engines, will ensure the highest level of availability for the French Navy and the continuity of SAR operations on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts. Built by Airbus Helicopters, the H160 is certified for the use of night vision goggles, which are necessary for winching operations at night.

The H160, as a next generation medium twin-engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines, is modular by design in order to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.

Brazilian helicopters

The Brazilian armed forces, through the Combat Aircraft Programme Coordinating Committee (COPAC), have acquired 27 single engine H125 helicopters to boost the training capacity of the Brazilian Navy and the Air Force.

H125
The Brazilian armed forces acquire 27 H125 helicopters

The H125 will be produced in the H125 final assembly line located in Itajubá, Brazil at Helibras’ factory where the H225Ms for the Brazilian armed forces are also assembled. These new helicopters will replace the ageing AS350 and Bell 206 helicopters currently in service with the Brazilian Air Force and the Brazilian Navy respectively.

«This joint procurement contract represents the realisation of a project that will equip both the Brazilian Air Force and Navy with modern aircraft that will meet the needs of the Forces for the next 30 years», said Commander of the Air Force, Lieutenant Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Junior.

«Airbus Helicopters is proud to see the H125 supporting the training of the next generation of pilots of the Brazilian armed forces. The H125 is a versatile helicopter used widely in both the civil and military markets as a training platform thanks to its ruggedness, reliability, and easy maintenance. We are honored by the continued confidence of the Brazilian armed forces after more than 40 years of cooperation», said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters.

The new H125 helicopters will have a G500H TXi double glass cockpit and VEMD (Vehicle & Engine Multifunction Display) and will be compatible with the use of Night Vision Goggles (NVG). They will also include different types of mission equipment such as a winch and a hook so that the training of future pilots is as representative of their missions as possible.

The Brazilian armed forces currently operate a total of 156 Airbus helicopters deployed from its eight bases across the country. Its fleet ranges from the light single engine Ecureuil family to the multi-purpose heavy H225M helicopter, 67 and 41 helicopters respectively, to cover a wide array of missions such as tactical transport, search and rescue missions, and civil population support.

The worldwide best-selling H125 has accumulated more than 37 million flight hours with more than 5350 helicopters currently in operation. The model, known for its robustness and versatility, is widely used in high-performance missions.

Infographic H125
Infographic: Airbus Helicopters and the Brazilian Armed Forces

The world’s first ACH160

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the world’s first ACH160 to a customer in Brazil on the eve of the 17th edition of the Annual Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) at Congonhas airport, São Paulo. The rotorcraft will notably be the first H160 to fly in Latin America.

ACH160
Airbus Helicopters delivers the world’s first ACH160 to a Brazilian customer

«We are very proud that the world’s first ACH160 has been delivered here in Brazil, and look forward to seeing its distinctive and elegant silhouette flying through the skies of São Paulo», stated Jean-Luc Alfonsi, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters’ Brazilian customer centre, Helibras. «Helibras is the leader in the Brazilian turbine helicopter executive aviation segment and we are confident the ACH160 will set new standards for customers and operators wanting to make a distinctive choice in terms of safety, comfort and performance».

According to data from the Brazilian General Aviation Association (ABAG), more than 2,500 airports and 1,300 heliports in Brazil use corporate aviation services via jets, turboprops, piston aircraft and helicopters. «The growing general aviation market in Brazil is crucial for increasing economic and social productivity, as well for maintaining the country’s air connectivity», emphasises Alfonsi.

The ACH160 is the latest member of the ACH family and the most technologically advanced helicopter in its class. It provides 20% greater volume per passenger compared to previous generation medium twin helicopters, 35% larger windows than its competitors, resulting in the brightest cabin in its category and 15% lower fuel burn than its nearest competitor.

The ACH160 family is designed in three versions – Line, Line with Lounge package, and Exclusive – to meet the different needs of this demanding market, with different levels of customization and unrivalled sophistication to better fit the lifestyle of each customer. The ACH160’s design, laying claim to sixty-eight new patents, sounds the clarion call for innovation outperforming expectations. This rotorcraft comes with enhanced safety features and sets a new standard for passenger comfort. Innovations include the canted Fenestron for greater useful load and a flat attitude in flight, and sound-reducing Blue Edge rotor blades for quieter operations.

Cyprus orders six H145Ms

The Government of Cyprus has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters for the purchase of six H145Ms with an option for another six aircraft. The five-bladed helicopters will be operated by the Cypriot National Guard.

H145M
Cyprus orders six H145Ms for its National Guard

«The implementation of this agreement will provide the National Guard with a cost-effective and high-performance helicopter solution that satisfies the operational requirements set by the General Staff and addresses many of the future challenges of light attack helicopter fleets. Able to operate in very demanding environments, the H145M will enhance the National Guard’s day and night capabilities in delivering rapid response, fire power and precision, providing effective combat support, and acquiring critical information», said Andreas P. Louka, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus.

«The helicopter solution conceived by the National Guard/Air Force Command would not have materialised without Airbus’ strong commitment to customer focus and satisfaction. For this reason, I thank Airbus Helicopters for their excellent cooperation and commitment to this project and I am deeply satisfied because this contract marks the initiation of a long-term relationship with Airbus, a corporation with a reputation in safety, reliability and highest production standards», he added.

«We would like to thank the Government of Cyprus for the trust they are placing in the H145M which is becoming the reference multi-role light attack helicopter on the market», said Olivier Michalon, Executive Vice President Global Business at Airbus Helicopters. «Operators can use it for tactical air transport, deployment of crisis response forces, fire support, armed reconnaissance as well as the evacuation of wounded or the liberation of hostages. There are now five different customers for the H145M in Europe, adding to the interoperability of armed forces on the continent», he added. «We see a strong interest for the H145M across the world and we have several ongoing campaigns, which is very promising for this aircraft».

The H145M is a multi-role light utility military helicopter. Derived from the civil H145, the latest version of the H145M features a new, innovative five-bladed rotor that increases the helicopter’s payload by 150 kg/331 lbs. The design of the new bearingless main rotor also simplifies maintenance operations.

Equipped with the Airbus HForce weapons system the H145M can be operated as a light attack helicopter. The weapons range includes guns, rockets and missiles are currently being integrated. Combined with Manned-Unmanned Teaming capabilities and integration into networked combat, its bandwidth makes it the most performant helicopter in its class.

The H145 was developed as a civil model for day and night operations and in the most adverse conditions. It is used by armed forces, police and rescue teams all over the world. It is powered by two powerful Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2E turbines, controlled by the FADEC (full authority digital engine control) system. In addition, the helicopter is equipped with the Helionix digital avionics suite and thus offers not only innovative flight data management but also a powerful 4-axis autopilot, which considerably reduces the pilots’ workload in their missions. It’s particularly low noise emissions make the H145 the quietest helicopter in its class.

The H145M is already in service in Hungary (20), Germany (15), Serbia (9), Thailand (5) and Luxembourg (2). The U.S. Army operates a fleet of more than 460 locally built civil helicopters of the H145 family under the name UH-72 Lakota.

Gendarmerie Nationale

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract, on behalf of the Ministry of Interior, for the procurement and maintenance of 10 H160s in a law enforcement configuration for the Gendarmerie Nationale. Linked to the contract for the procurement of 169 H160Ms for the French Ministry of Armed Forces, this order is part of the Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020.

H160
France becomes first H160 law enforcement customer

«The French Ministry of Interior contract is an important milestone for the H160. We now have customers for the offshore transportation, private and business aviation, search and rescue and law enforcement mission segments, showing that the H160 is a truly versatile aircraft», said Bruno Even, CEO Airbus Helicopters. «Developing this new configuration for the H160 in cooperation with an experienced customer like the Gendarmerie Nationale is key to the success of the programme».

France is the first country to order the H160 for law enforcement missions. The H160s for the Gendarmerie Nationale will be equipped with a Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, winching, and fast roping capabilities. The air force command centre of the Gendarmerie Nationale and Airbus Helicopters are also working closely together to develop a tailored mission management system.

The French Gendarmerie Nationale already operates a wide fleet of Airbus helicopters from the H125, H135 and H145 families. On top of its improved performances and advanced mission systems, the H160 will bring a new troop transport capability for the French Ministry of Interior’s security forces, mainly tactical units, such as the Gendarmerie Nationale’s Intervention Group (GIGN). The first H160s will be delivered before the Olympic Games that will take place in Paris in 2024.

The first of a new generation of helicopter, the EASA-certified H160 benefits from a low cost of operations and optimized flight safety. With its light maintenance plan aligned between engine and aircraft, the H160 optimizes operating costs and offers a new standard in availability. The Gendarmerie’s H160s will benefit from a global support contract to be managed by Airbus Helicopters including technical support, spare parts stocks on four Gendarmerie bases, and connected services.

To support the industry

The Spanish Ministries of Defence and Interior have ordered 36 Airbus H135 helicopters. This signature takes place in the context of the stimulus plan activated by the Spanish government to support the industry. The Ministry of Defence will receive 18 helicopters to be operated by the air force and the navy while the Ministry of Interior will also take delivery of 18 helicopters to be operated by the National Police and the Guardia Civil. The deliveries will start next year.

Airbus H135
Spanish Ministries of Defence and Interior sign for 36 H135s тo be operated by Spain’s Air Force, Navy, National Police, and the Guardia Civil

The Spanish Army already operates a fleet of 16 H135 helicopters. With this acquisition, these will be the Spanish Air Force’s first H135s and the Spanish Navy’s first Airbus Helicopters product. As was the case for the H135s acquired some time ago by the army, the new aircraft for the air force and navy will replace older helicopter models currently used for advanced pilot training. The standardisation of training fleets across the three armed forces will create synergies and lead to the implementation of new and more efficient training and support activities.

«Together with the NH90, the H135 will be present in all branches of the Spanish armed forces, as an example of harmonisation and the search for synergies in training and maintenance, as stipulated by our Helicopter Master Plan», said Admiral Santiago González at Dirección General de Armamento y Material (DGAM). «This collaboration between the Ministries of the Interior and Defence is an important milestone in the rationalisation of programmes by the Spanish Government».

The Ministry of Interior currently has a fleet of 31 helicopters from the H135 family in operation with the National Police, the Guardia Civil, and Tráfico. The new helicopters will enable the Policía and Guardia Civil to replace the BO105 helicopters in a wide range of missions including law enforcement, surveillance, and rescue activities.

«We are pleased to sign the largest H135 contract in the history of this programme in Spain, a key partner and one of the largest H135 operators worldwide. I take this opportunity to welcome the Spanish Navy and the Spanish Air Force as new users of this model», said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «The H135’s performance, versatility, and flight readiness have been particularly appreciated by Spanish operators».

Airbus’ light, twin-engine H135 is equipped with the most advanced technologies available, including Airbus Helicopters’ own Helionix avionics suite. There are about 1,350 H135 helicopters operated by 300 operators in 64 countries. The fleet has accumulated 6 million flight hours.

French Guépard

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters for the development and procurement of the H160M in the frame of the Light Joint Helicopter programme (HIL). The contract includes the development of several prototypes and the delivery of a first batch of 30 aircraft (21 for the army, 8 for the navy and one for the air force). The French Ministry for the Armed Forces plans to order a total of 169 H160M helicopters, or Guépard as it will be known in the French armed forces. Deliveries will start in 2027 beginning with the French Army.

H160M Guepard
France orders the H160M for its Joint Light Helicopter programme

«The Guépard is the result of ten years of close cooperation with the DGA and the French armed forces», said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «The H160M will bring new capabilities to the armed forces as it is adapted to modern warfare thanks to its increased connectivity, maneuverability, low acoustic footprint, and a fully integrated support system. Having the French armed forces, a world reference, as our launch customer for the H160M is extremely valuable».

The first of a new generation of helicopters, the H160M is derived from the EASA-certified H160. It benefits from a low cost of operations and optimised flight safety. 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. To ensure a high level of availability while reducing operating costs, the H160M’s support and services needs were taken into account from early in its design phase. Innovative and simplified, the H160M’s support is based on the exploitation of data through analytics.

Airbus Helicopters will guarantee a high level of availability through an innovative maintenance contract. Airbus Helicopters commits to an innovative management of maintenance and aircraft availability through a dedicated organization that has proven to be successful. This organization was introduced with the global support contract signed in 2020 for the French Cougar and Caracal fleet and has led to a significant increase in aircraft availability.

Trials conducted in the Moroccan desert in July 2021 demonstrated the efficiency of the H160’s inlet barrier filtration system in protecting the Safran Arrano engines against sand ingestion. The tests in the desert also demonstrated the efficiency of the automatic flight control system during the takeoff and landing operations with limited visibility due to sand clouds. The H160M will be ready to operate in the roughest conditions.

The military version of the H160 will be more discreet than previous helicopters with a reduced acoustic signature made possible by the Blue Edge blades. The H160’s stability, maneuverability, and an automatic flight control system will be key assets for the military version. The H160M will be equipped with Airbus Helicopters’ HForce weapon system, a modular and incremental solution enabling the use of a large choice of weapons. Equipment will also include a hoist and a fast roping arm.

The H160M Guépard will be equipped with the Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, the Thales FlytX cockpit avionics suite, and AirMaster C radar. The pilots will be able to use the Thales TopOwl Helmet-mounted Sight & Display. The Guépard will also carry a self-protection suite, a satellite communication system and tactical data link system. The weapon package will include the MBDA ANL anti-ship missile, pod mounted and door mounted guns.

H225M in naval configuration

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first H225M in naval combat configuration to the Brazilian Navy. Stationed at the naval base in São Pedro d’Aldeia, the aircraft will boost the Brazilian Navy’s mission capabilities including anti-surface warfare and maritime surveillance.

H225M
First ever naval combat H225M delivered to the Brazilian Navy

Developed by the engineering team at Helibras (the Brazilian subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters), this naval version of the H225M aircraft is the most complex configuration that has ever been produced for this multirole helicopter. The aircraft’s embedded systems include the EWS IDAS-3 (countermeasure system), MBDA Exocet AM39 B2M2 missiles, the APS143 tactical radar and the naval mission system N-TDMS (Naval Tactical Data Management System) developed in partnership with Atech and Airbus Defense and Space, which is responsible for making the command and control of all embedded systems, including the missile system.

«We are very proud of this achievement, which proves the industrial and technological capability of the Airbus Helicopters teams in France and Brazil to deliver one of the most modern solutions in the world to the Brazilian Armed Forces», said Alberto Robles, Head of Latin America at Airbus Helicopters. «Designed to meet the most demanding requirements of the Brazilian Navy, the advanced anti-surface warfare and tactical capabilities open new mission capabilities for the H225M utility helicopter».

The last stage of the firing campaign with the Exocet AM39 B2M2 missiles was successfully carried out last June, representing a major milestone in the programme, which led the way to qualification and delivery.

The naval H225M is part of the contract signed by the Brazilian government in 2008 and which includes 50 H225Ms to be operated by the three armed forces. So far, 39 H225Ms have been delivered to the Brazilian Armed Forces, all of them assembled locally by Helibras.

Two more H160s

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has confirmed an option to Airbus Helicopters, Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines for two more H160s for the French Navy. These aircraft will join the fleet of four H160s already contracted in 2020, the first of which is currently being assembled by Airbus Helicopters in Marignane, in the south of France. The six H160s will be delivered in a Search and Rescue (SAR) configuration and will gradually start operating from May 2022 from Lanveoc-Poulmic naval air station (Britany), Cherbourg airport (Normandy) and Hyères naval air station (Provence). Awaiting the H160M «Guépard» deliveries in the frame of the French Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) programme, these H160s will take over the SAR missions currently conducted by the NH90s and Panthers, allowing these combat helicopters to fulfill their main tasks at sea on board combat vessels.

Airbus H160
Two more H160s for the French Navy

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.

The H160s were ordered by Babcock in 2018 and will be maintained and equipped in partnership with Airbus Helicopters, and Safran Helicopters Engines ensuring the highest level of availability for the French Navy and the continuity of SAR operations on the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts. Built by Airbus Helicopters, the six H160s will be equipped with a winch and a modular cabin that can be optimized for each mission. The H160s will be certified for use of night vision goggles which are necessary for winching operations at night.

The six H160s will be modified into a light military configuration by Babcock, a provider of critical, complex engineering services to governments, to answer to the needs of the French Navy. Babcock will integrate the Safran Electronics & Defense new generation electro-optical system, Euroflir 410.

The H160, as a next generation medium twin-engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines, is modular by design in order to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.

169 H160Ms, «Guépard», are foreseen in the frame of the HIL programme to replace five types of helicopters in service with the French armed forces.

Stimulus plan

The French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed an order to purchase eight additional H225Ms and a second VSR700 prototype. The H225Ms will be operated by the French Air and Space Force. The VSR700 is an unmanned aerial system being developed for the French Navy in partnership with Naval Group. This order is part of a Stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry announced by the French government in 2020. For Airbus Helicopters, the plan also includes an order for two H145s for the Sécurité Civile and 10 H160s for the French Gendarmerie Nationale.

H225M
France orders H225Ms and VSR700 prototype in support of helicopter industry

«We are very thankful to the French government for their support of the aeronautical industry through the Stimulus plan. This is a win-win situation as the aircraft fulfill a real operational need for the French armed forces and this order allows Airbus Helicopters to secure jobs and key skills in the medium term», said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. «The French armed forces are facing increasing and varied challenges and I am confident that the H225M, thanks to its excellent range and multirole capacity, will be an efficient and reliable asset that will enhance their operations at home and abroad. The VSR700 is also a crucial programme. It will provide the French Navy with a highly capable autonomous platform and it will pave the way for future unmanned systems within the Airbus Helicopters portfolio».

Like the rest of the aeronautical industry, the helicopter industry has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 saw the worldwide market decrease by 50%. The support of the French government will help secure 960 jobs during the next three years for Airbus Helicopters and its suppliers.

These contracts will benefit the French helicopter industry as a whole, including other key French aerospace providers such as Safran Helicopters Engines with the H225M’s Makila 2A engines, Safran Power Units with the Saphir 20 auxiliary power unit, Safran Electronic Defense with the electro-optical system Euroflir 410M NG and the Sigma inertial navigation system, and Thales with the VUHF radio TRA6034 and IFF transponder TSC4000. But with more than 300 French Tier 1 suppliers involved in the H225M’s supply chain, the contract will also benefit a variety of small and medium enterprises. The VSR700 is based on the Cabri G2 light helicopter built by local SME Hélicoptères Guimbal.

First deliveries of the H225Ms are planned to start in 2024 and will fulfill the Air and Space Force’s operational needs and the long awaited replacement of the Puma fleet.

Thanks to a modular and versatile configuration allowing the integration of diverse equipment, the aircraft will be dedicated to a wide range of military missions including combat/search and rescue, medical evacuation, support to the population in times of crisis, and tactical training. While based in the Air and Space Force’s Cazaux base in Southwest France, the helicopters will be deployed across the country and will also support the French armed forces’ operations overseas.

With more than 104 helicopters in service and more than 143,000 flight hours accumulated to date, the H225M is a recognized combat-proven, versatile and reliable workhorse for military missions worldwide. Among the essential operational advantages offered by the 11-tonne helicopter is the in-flight refueling capacity, already tested by the French and Brazilian air forces.

Designed to operate alongside other shipborne naval assets, the VSR700 unmanned aerial system (UAS) is being developed within the frame of the SDAM (Système de drone aérien de la Marine) programme for the French Navy. The VSR700, derived from Hélicoptères Guimbal’s Cabri G2, is an unmanned aerial system in the 500-1000 kg maximum take-off weight range. It offers the best balance of payload capability, endurance and operational cost. It is capable of carrying multiple full-size naval sensors for extended periods and can operate from existing ships, alongside a helicopter, with a low logistical footprint.

The first prototype of the VSR700 performed its maiden flight in 2020 and has recently begun expanding its flight envelope.