MARIGNANE, France --- During a visit by the French Defense Minister Gérard Longuet to its facilities in Marignane, Eurocopter officially delivered the first NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) qualified in its final operational configuration to the French armament procurement agency today.
This initial on-time delivery comes on the heels of the qualification issued by the NAHEMA countries last November for the French NH90 TTH in its final operational configuration. The helicopter delivered today to the DGA will be handed over to the French Army Air Corps (ALAT), which will be using it for the tactical transport missions it was specifically designed to perform.
“The delivery of the first NH90 TTH in its final operational configuration is the culmination of the most important helicopter program ever launched in Europe,” declared Lutz Bertling, president and CEO of Eurocopter, which is one of the companies that make up the NHI consortium responsible for managing the NH90 program. “Eurocopter and its partners are extremely proud of this achievement. With its exceptional operational capabilities, we are convinced that this helicopter will successfully meet the needs of the French armed forces.”
France has ordered a total of 34 NH90 TTH helicopters, with an additional 34 on option, to progressively replace the Pumas currently in service for the ALAT.
The next-generation NH90 TTH has been designed to perform a wide range of missions - even the most demanding, such as utility transportation and logistics, combat search and rescue (RESCO), medical evacuations, special forces operations and anti-terrorism.
In its final operational configuration, the NH90 is equipped with field-tested avionics that enable the helicopter to carry out its missions both day and night with no major restrictions. It also has high-performance self-protection equipment, an interoperable military communication system for international operations, and equipment for ship-based deployment.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defense-related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 20,000 people. In 2011, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s number one helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 5.4 billion Euros, orders for 457 new helicopters and a 43 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Defense Minister Gérard Longuet announced during his speech that France is to order a second batch of 34 NH90 tactical transport helicopters for the French army, in addition to the 34 army versions and the 27 NFH navy versions already on order.
Both are known as Caiman in French service.
Longuet later told defense-aerospace.com that the order is to be formally awarded “in a matter of days,” at a unit cost “of the order of 20 million euros each.” With spares and support, the contract’s value could easily exceed 800 million euros.
The first French army regiment equipped with the NH90 will be fully operational in 2013, according to a senior Army representative attending the ceremony.
Longuet also added that the French government has decided to advance about 500 million euros to help Eurocopter develop its new X-4 family of helicopters, and to develop a range of new technologies for the next generation of helicopters.) (ends)