The Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) awarded on August 3, 2020 the contract for the development and supply of three new-generation test helicopters to a consortium formed by Airbus Helicopters and Héli-Union.
This contract will contribute to the renewal of the DGA Flight Tests test center’s test helicopters fleet (Hélicoptères Bancs d’Essais, Nouvelle Ggeneration, or HBE NG).
Produced on the basis of the H225 civilian helicopter (the latest version of the Super Puma family from Airbus Helicopters), these three HBE NG will enable DGA Flight Tests to guarantee the continuity of its missions before the gradual withdrawal from service of the Puma test helicopters now in service, whose average age is forty-eight years.
To ensure flight tests for the development and qualification of equipment and future weapon systems, DGA Flight Tests uses a diversified fleet of specially instrumented test bench helicopters (four Puma SA330s, four Dauphin SA 365, three Fennec AS 550), to ensure a wide range of capabilities, including missiles, optronic sensors, electronic warfare and electromagnetic detection equipment and well as safety-rescue-parachuting equipment.
Héli-Union will deliver the three “unmodified” helicopters to the DGA after a maintenance visit. Airbus Helicopters will then carry out the development work for the test bench modifications as well as the modification sites. Their support will be provided by contracts from the Aeronautical Maintenance Department (DMAé).
Delivery of the first HBE NG is scheduled for early 2024.