The Airbus Joint Light Helicopter H160M will be christened as “Guépard” (“Cheetah”) by the French Armed Forces for whom its builder, Airbus Helicopters has brought forward the program to 2021.
During a visit to the Airbus Helicopters headquarters today, French Defence Minister Florence Parly revealed the full-scale mock up of the H160M that will be presented on the Ministry of the Armed Forces stand at the next Paris Air Show.
The HIL programme, for which the Airbus Helicopters’ H160 was selected in 2017, was initially scheduled for launch in 2022 by the current military budget law. Launching the programme earlier will enable delivery of the first H160Ms to the French Armed Forces to be advanced to 2026.
The helicopter was also given its official name and will be designated as “Guépard” (“Cheetah”) by the French Armed Forces.
The H160 has been designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling 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 through the HIL programme.
“I would like to thank the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA and the armed forces for their trust which helped create the conditions for the programme to be brought forward within the framework of the current military budget law. This will make it possible to speed up the replacement of the older generation of aircraft,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters adding “our teams are committed to delivering an aircraft in 2026”
Built around a platform that will enter service next year, the HIL programme will benefit from many of the advantages inherent in the civil H160, particularly in terms of support, with simplified maintenance and lower operating costs than the previous generation of helicopters in this category.