Airbus Helicopters has delivered the 500th NH90 helicopter, a milestone achievement for the multi-role military rotorcraft. The NH90, developed by Europe’s NHIndustries partnership (Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters, and Fokker Aerostructures), is designed to meet the most stringent NATO standards for operations in demanding conditions over land and sea, day and night.
The 500th NH90 was handed over to the Italian Army during an official ceremony held at Leonardo’s Venice Tessera facility on March 15, 2023. The helicopter is a tactical transport (TTH) variant that will be used for personnel and cargo transport, medical evacuation, battlefield support and special operations. The Italian Army has ordered a total of 60 TTHs, of which 42 have been delivered so far.
The NH90 program has seen a significant increase in production and deliveries in recent years, thanks to a joint effort by industry, customers and end-users to overcome technical challenges and enhance the platform’s capabilities and availability. More than 440 NH90s have been delivered to 18 customers in 14 countries as of mid-2021, accumulating more than 265,000 flight hours.
The NH90 offers a high level of interoperability, modularity and commonality among its different variants: the TTH for land missions and the NATO frigate helicopter (NFH) for naval missions. Both versions share a common platform equipped with a state-of-the-art glass cockpit, fly-by-wire controls with 4-axis autopilot, advanced avionics and communication systems. The NFH also features specific equipment such as sonar, radar, electro-optical sensors and weapons for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.
The NH90 has proven its versatility and performance in many theatres of operation around the world, such as Afghanistan, Mali, Iraq, Somalia or Lebanon. It has also demonstrated its capabilities in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions such as those following hurricanes Irma or Maria in the Caribbean.
The NH90 is constantly being improved to meet evolving operational requirements and customer feedback. Some of the latest enhancements include new mission equipment packages for special forces operations; increased ballistic protection; advanced electronic warfare systems; new sensors such as AESA radar; laser-guided rockets; forward air refueling capability; full de-icing system; or low-frequency sonar.
Airbus Helicopters is committed to supporting its customers with innovative solutions that enhance their mission readiness and safety. As part of this commitment, Airbus Helicopters launched in 2019 a global support improvement program called Global Network Tiger (GNT), which aims to optimize maintenance processes; increase spare parts availability; reduce costs; improve fleet reliability; implement performance-based logistics contracts; or develop digital services such as predictive maintenance.
With its unmatched operational flexibility, technological edge and growing support network, the NH90 is well positioned to remain one of the most successful military helicopters on the market for decades to come.
The NH90 helicopter is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter developed by a consortium of European countries. It was designed to meet the operational requirements of NATO nations for battlefield utility, naval and special operations.
The NH90 has several features that make it suitable for various missions, such as a fly-by-wire control system, a composite fuselage, a rear ramp, and a high level of system integration. The helicopter can be equipped with different mission modules depending on the role, such as troop transport, medical evacuation, search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and electronic warfare.
The NH90 program was launched in 1992 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The first prototype flew in 1995 and the first production aircraft was delivered in 2006. Since then, more than 400 NH90s have been ordered by 14 countries around the world.
The NH90 is one of the most advanced helicopters in its class and offers a high level of performance and versatility to its operators. It is also one of the most complex and expensive helicopters to develop and maintain due to its multinational nature and technological challenges.