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Revolutionary H160 helicopter strengthens French Navy’s air power with second delivery

The second H160 helicopter has been delivered to the French Navy. It is a modern medium twin-engine helicopter that will conduct maritime search and rescue (SAR) missions. Babcock carried out modifications to the helicopter at their Le Cannet-des-Maures facility to transform it into a light military configuration.

The French Armaments Directorate General (DGA) purchased six helicopters, including the second H160, from Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines under France’s Military Programming Law (LPM) 2019-2025. The first H160 was delivered in September 2022, and the remaining four are expected to arrive by the end of the year. The H160s will replace the French Navy’s NH90, Dauphins, and Panthers for SAR missions, allowing combat helicopters to concentrate on their primary roles aboard warships.

Operational data collected from the H160s will aid the H160M “Guépard,” part of the Joint Light Helicopters (HIL) program. The H160s will be deployed to Cherbourg Airport, Lanvéoc-Poulmic, and Hyères naval aviation stations, and the Mediterranean Sea starting in mid-2023, covering the English Channel, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. The delivery of the second H160 will allow for future crew training.

Each H160 comes equipped with a winch, mission-specific instrumentation, and the Euroflir 410 optronic system from Safran Electronics & Defense. The H160’s cutting-edge design includes a biplane stabilizer, a tilted tail rotor, and an Arrano engine, which enhances its performance, safety, and comfort. Babcock, in collaboration with Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines, will be responsible for the operational maintenance of the H160s to ensure high aircraft availability, critical for the SAR mission’s permanence.

The H160 has a versatile design suitable for a range of applications, such as offshore transportation, emergency medical care, public services, private and corporate aviation, among others. The HIL program aims to replace five different types of aging helicopters with 169 H160Ms, providing the French military forces with improved performance, comfort, and safety.

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