The global defence contractor has commenced delivery of a fleet of search and rescue helicopters for the French Navy.
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The first of six Airbus-built H160 helicopters has been accepted into service by the French Navy, expected to be deployed for search and rescue (SAR) missions.
The platform forms part of an interim fleet developed via a partnership between Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines.
Prior to acceptance by the French Navy, the first H160 was delivered to Babcock by Airbus Helicopters in May 2022 and has since been modified into a light military configuration.
The modular cabin was also adapted for SAR operations, with a Safran Euroflir 410 electro optical system also integrated.
This marks the first delivery of a public service version of the H160 and comes just months after two H160s entered into service in Brazil (private and business aviation segment) and Japan (news gathering missions).
“The delivery of the first H160 to a military customer is a major milestone for the H160 program”, Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, said.
“…With this H160, we will strengthen our partnership with the French Navy, delivering the right helicopter for its critical search and rescue missions.
“Together with our partners, we will also ensure that the H160 is ready when needed.”
The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) first signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran in 2020 for the delivery of four H160s in a SAR configuration.
The DGA exercised an option to acquire two additional H160s in 2021.
The French Navy’s first H160 is set to transition into operation from the Lanveoc-Poulmic naval air station (Brittany), Cherbourg airport (Normandy), and the naval air station in Hyères (Provence).
The H160 is billed as a next generation medium twin-engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines.
The platform’s modular design is tipped to support a number of missions, including offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.
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