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French Navy boosts operational capabilities with delivery of second cutting-edge H160 helicopter

The French Navy was given its second H160 helicopter from Airbus, a modern twin-engine helicopter meant for search and rescue (SAR) missions. Babcock made modifications for the helicopter at its Le Cannet-des-Maures facility, so it would be in a light military configuration.

France Military Programming Law 2019-2025 calls for the purchase of six helicopters, including the H160, from Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines. The first H160 was delivered to the French Navy in September 2022, while the remaining four will arrive by year-end. The H160 will replace the French Navy’s NH90, Dauphins, and Panthers for SAR missions, allowing combat helicopters to focus on their main roles while at sea.

The H160M “Guépard” from the Joint Light Helicopters (HIL) program will benefit from operational data from the H160s. The H160s will be deployed to Cherbourg Airport, the French Navy’s Lanvéoc-Poulmic and Hyères naval aviation stations, and the Mediterranean Sea starting in mid-2023. With a winch, mission-specific instrumentation, and the Euroflir 410 optronic system from Safran Electronics & Defence, each H160 will be equipped for night missions. The H160 includes innovations like a biplane stabilizer, a tilted tail rotor, and an Arrano engine for enhanced performance, safety, and comfort.

Babcock will handle the operational maintenance of the H160s in collaboration with Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines. This partnership will ensure that the helicopters are always available for SAR operations. The H160 is a versatile design suitable for offshore transportation, private and corporate aviation, emergency medical care, and public services. The HIL program is replacing five aging helicopter models with 169 H160Ms, allowing the French military forces to have a single, standardized platform. The H160 is a cutting-edge helicopter that features an aerodynamically efficient, futuristic design, a slanted Fenestron® tail rotor, and Blue EdgeTM blades that decrease noise.

The biplane stabilizer makes it more agile and stable, and it is propelled by two 1,280 shp Safran Arrano engines, allowing it to reach a top speed of 150 knots and a range of 475 nautical miles at cruise. The H160’s cabin can accommodate up to 12 passengers or two stretchers and a medical team and includes a spacious baggage hold. The Helionix avionics system, with four large screens, synthetic vision, and other features, reduces the pilot’s workload and increases situational awareness. Innovative automation modes increase safety and ease of operation. The H160 is a dependable, medium-sized helicopter that uses state-of-the-art technology and design to provide speed, efficiency, safety, and comfort, making it the gold standard for the 21st century.


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