The Ministry of the Armed Forces Launches Initial Development of the Cheetah Military Helicopter
(Source: French Ministry of the Armed Forces; issued Feb. 06, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
Developed under the Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger program, and derived from the Airbus H160 civil helicopter, the H160M Cheetah is intended to replace five different models of support helicopters now in service with the French military. (AHC photo)
Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the award by the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) of the first development work for the future light joint helicopter Guépard (Cheetah).
The Cheetah is a militarized version of the H160 helicopter from Airbus Helicopters, the latest addition to its civilian range. It will equip the three services with a single model to replace five different currently in service (Gazelle, Alouette III, Dauphin, Panther and Fennec).
Florence Parly announced, in May 2019, her decision to accelerate the program to allow the first deliveries from 2026, 2 years ahead of the initial schedule.
The French defense procurement agency (DGA) on December 30, 2019 awarded Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines the pre-development contracts for the militarization of the H160. It concerns in particular the adaptation of the avionics, sensors, and the cabin to enable military missions to be carried out, including from French Navy ships.
In conjunction with the French military staffs, DGA is continuing to define the performance and characteristics requirements of the Cheetah and its support system. The full-scale launch of the program is planned for 2021.
All of the project's stakeholders -- DGA, Aviation Maintenance Department (DMAé), armed services, Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines -- are continuing in parallel their work to prepare to support and maintain the H160.
The existence of a single helicopter fleet for the three armies should enable an efficient and optimized support organization.
The Cheetah, whose full-scale model was presented for the first time in June 2019 at the Paris Air Show-Le Bourget, will eventually replace the French Army Gazelles, the French Navy’s Alouette III, Dauphin and Panther, and the Fennec operated by the Air Force.
Thanks to its modularity and versatility, the Cheetah will allow the armed forces to carry out a wide variety of missions in a national or interallied framework. It will thus ensure the missions of armed reconnaissance, fire support, infiltration of special forces or medical evacuation in the Army. It will also carry out anti-ship, naval force protection, intelligence and maritime rescue missions within the French Navy. Finally, it will carry out airspace protection, search and rescue, intelligence and even deep-penetration missions for the air force.
Airbus Helicopters Continues the Militarization of the H160 and Its Support Framework
(Source: Airbus Helicopters; issued Feb. 06, 2020)
MARIGNANE, France --- Airbus Helicopters and the French Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) are pursuing a new set of studies to advance the militarization of the H160 helicopter, and to define its support system in the framework of the Joint Light Helicopter program (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL).
This contract launches pre-development activities for the military version of the H160, also called the Guépard (Cheetah) by the French armed forces, in order to meet the delivery schedule that was brought forward in May 2019 by the French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly.
The new set of studies will also focus on defining the optimal set-up for supporting the tri-service H160M fleet. Airbus Helicopters, Safran Helicopter Engines, and the DGA will work closely together in order to maximize the availability rate of the helicopters, as well as optimizing the cost of supporting the fleet.
“Launching this collaborative work between Industry and the Ministry of the Armed Forces in order to define the support framework for the Guépard and the associated processes, as early as the pre-development phase, is essential. The output will provide us with all the levers necessary to ensure a high level of availability at the H160M’s entry into service in the French armed forces,” said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters.
“These studies build upon the work and commitments taken recently in the global support contracts for the Cougar, Caracal, and Tiger fleets of the French armed forces”.
The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme.
Bringing the launch of the HIL programme forward by two years to 2021 will enable initial deliveries to the French armed forces in 2026.