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French Army’s NH90 for Special Forces Begins Flight Testing, Find Out What is Different in it

The flight test campaign for the NH90 Standard 2 prototype has been initiated by Airbus Helicopters. This specification is one of the most recent NH90 configurations and is being developed specifically for the French Army Aviation to support special forces operations. A total of 18 NH90s in the Standard 2 configuration have been ordered by the French Ministry for Armed Forces. According to the schedule established with the French Armament General Directorate (Direction Générale de l’Armement), flight testing will persist until the end of the year.

The Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, a new digital map generator, the installation of a third crew member, and new enlarged rear sliding windows that can accommodate self-protection weapons are all included in the Standard 2 configuration.

NH90 Standard 2 prototype
NH90 Standard 2 prototype. Copyright: Airbus Helicopters / Anthony Pecchi

The new configuration’s design will be verified through the experiments. In anticipation of a future integration at a later stage, the NH90 Standard 2 prototype has been equipped with mechanical and electrical provisions that are specifically designed for the Distributed Aperture System (DAS) and a new generation Helmet Mounted Sight Digital Display (HMSD-DD). These systems will enhance the special forces’ ability to operate in conditions that are exceedingly challenging.

In 2020, the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) and NHIndustries (NHI) and its partner companies (Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo, and Fokker) initiated a program to develop and upgrade 10 NH90 TTHs in the Standard 2 configuration. These flight experiments are a component of this program.

NAHEMA, on behalf of the French Ministry for Armed Forces, awarded a contract to NHIndustries in December 2023 for the production of eight additional NH90 TTHs in the Standard 2 configuration, thereby reinforcing their confidence in the NH90 program, following the program’s launch.

The French Army Aviation will operate 81 NH90 TTHs by the end of the decade. The French Army received the NH90 for the first time in 2011. So far, sixty-three NH90 TTHs have been delivered. It was initially operationalized in Mali in 2014 and has since completed 50,000 flight hours.

NHI provides support for the NH90s of the French armed forces under the NH90 Operational Support (NOS) contract, which is shared with Germany. This performance-based agreement allows customers to concentrate on their critical operations by delegating a significant portion of the nation’s logistics and maintenance activities to NHI.



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