The French defense procurement agency DGA has awarded Airbus a contract for the delivery of four H160s to the French Navy for search and rescue missions.
The helicopters will be delivered through a partnership between Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines.
The French Navy will start operating these helicopters in 2022 for a period of ten years. This interim fleet of H160s will enable the French Navy to ensure the continuity of these critical missions as the Alouette III retires from service and until Cheetah deliveries begin.
Cheetah, a French defense ministry program for the development of a tri-service Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) that received additional funding last week, is set to deliver first units in 2026. A total of 169 H160Ms are to be acquired as a replacement for five types of helicopters in service in the French armed forces.
Airbus Helicopters, and its partners, will also be responsible for supporting the SAR fleet with a high level of availability and performance commitments. In addition, French Navy operational feedback will be monitored to benefit the design of the military version of the H160 and its support system.
“We are proud that the French Navy will be operating the H160 for their search and rescue missions. We are sure that the improved situational awareness, increased pilot assistance, and visibility that the H160 provides will prove to be a valuable asset for their critical and demanding missions”, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.