The French Navy has received its second Airbus H160 helicopter, a state-of-the-art medium twin-engine aircraft that will perform search and rescue (SAR) missions at sea. The helicopter was delivered by Babcock on March 27 at its site in Le Cannet-des-Maures, where it was modified into a light military configuration.
The second H160 is part of a batch of six helicopters ordered by the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) from Airbus Helicopters, Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines under France’s 2019-2025 military programming law (LPM). The first H160 was delivered in September 2022 and the remaining four will be delivered by the end of 2023.
The H160 helicopters will replace the NH90s, Dauphins and Panthers currently used for SAR missions by the French Navy, allowing these combat helicopters to focus on their primary tasks at sea on board naval vessels. The H160s will also provide valuable operational feedback for the development of the military version of the aircraft, the H160M “Guépard” of the Light Joint Helicopter (HIL) program.
The H160s will be deployed progressively from mid-2023 at three locations: the French Navy’s Lanvéoc-Poulmic and Hyères naval aviation bases, and Cherbourg airport. They will cover the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, as well as the Channel and North Sea areas. The delivery of the second H160 will enable the Navy to continue ongoing experiments while training future operational crews.
The H160s are equipped with a winch, a modular cabin that can be adapted for each mission, and the Euroflir 410 optronic system from Safran Electronics & Defense. They are also certified to fly with night vision goggles, which are required for night operations. The H160s feature a number of innovations, such as a biplane stabilizer, a canted tail rotor and an Arrano engine, that enhance its performance, safety and comfort.
The H160s will be maintained in operational condition by Babcock as part of a partnership with Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines. This partnership will ensure a high level of availability of the aircraft, which is essential for the permanence of the SAR mission.
The H160 is a versatile helicopter that can address various missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services. The French armed forces plan to acquire 169 H160Ms under the HIL program to replace five types of helicopters in service.
The Airbus H160 is a new medium utility helicopter that promises to revolutionize the rotorcraft industry with its innovative design, performance, and comfort. In this blog post, we will explore some of the features and capabilities of this remarkable aircraft, and why it is a game-changer for various missions and markets.
The H160 was formally launched in 2015 as the successor of the AS365 Dauphin and EC155 models and as the first member of the H generation of Airbus helicopters. It received its EASA-type certification in July 2020, and the first delivery took place in December 2021 to a Japanese customer for electronic news gathering. The H160 is also being developed for offshore transportation, commercial passenger transport, emergency medical services, public services, and business and private aviation.
One of the most striking aspects of the H160 is its sleek and futuristic appearance, which reflects its aerodynamic efficiency and reduced environmental impact. The H160 has a canted Fenestron® tail rotor that provides more thrust and stability, as well as lower noise and vibration levels. The main rotor features Blue Edge™ blades that reduce the sound signature by up to 50% compared to conventional blades. The H160 also has a biplane stabilizer that enhances manoeuvrability and safety.
The H160 is powered by two Safran Arrano engines that deliver 1,280 shp each, enabling a cruise speed of 150 knots and a range of 475 nautical miles. The H160 can carry up to 12 passengers or two stretchers plus a medical crew in its spacious and bright cabin, which has large windows and comfortable seats. The H160 also has a large baggage compartment that can accommodate up to 661 lb of luggage.
The H160 is equipped with the Helionix avionics suite, which reduces pilot workload and enhances situational awareness. The Helionix features four large displays, a four-axis autopilot, a synthetic vision system, a traffic collision avoidance system, a health and usage monitoring system, and a computerized rotorcraft flight manual. The H160 also has innovative automation modes, such as the ground helipad-assisted take-off procedure and the vortex pre-alerting feature, that increase safety and ease of operation.
The H160 is a versatile and reliable helicopter that offers high levels of performance, economic competitiveness, safety, and comfort to its customers. With its cutting-edge technology and design, the H160 sets a new standard for medium helicopters in the 21st century.