The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) said today it ordered two more Airbus H160 helicopters.
“The DGA orders 2 additional H160 helicopters for the French Navy,” DGA tweeted.
The H160s are produced by Airbus Helicopters. The company, along with DGA are pursuing a new set of studies to further the militarization of the H160 and to define its associated support ecosystem in the context of the Joint Light Helicopter program (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL).
“They (newly ordered helicopters) will complete the fleet of 4 H160s already ordered to compensate from 2022 for the withdrawal of the Alouette IIIs pending the arrival of the HIL Cheetah,” DGA stated further.
The future HIL Guépard (Cheetah) aircraft will replace old Alouette III, Dauphin and Panther of the French Navy; Gazelle of the Army; and Fennec of the Air Force. The French MoD’s HIL project calls the procurement of 169 Guépard helicopters for the French Army, Air Force and Navy.
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 interception, fire support, and anti surface warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme. Bringing the launch of the HIL programme forward to 2021 will enable first deliveries to the French armed forces in 2026.
The HIL Guépard is a 6 tons class helicopter capable of speeds of 160 knots. It can carry 12 passengers at distances of up to 120 nautical miles. According to Airbus Helicopters, the H160 features the noise-reducing and performance-enhancing “Blue Edge” main rotor designed to increase the lift capacity by 100 kg and lower noise signature by 50% (3 dB).