The German Navy’s Naval Air Wing 5 has officially started “initial flight operations” with the new NH90 naval helicopters at the Nordholz naval airbase.
The aircraft started operations on June 4, after it was temporarily grounded late last year due to what the defense ministry described as “significant errors” related to the helicopters’ insufficient and incomplete technical documentation.
According to the defense ministry, the issues was resolved on May 27, when the navy’s inspector, Vice Admiral Andreas Krause, signed the necessary handover documents. A ceremony on June 25 at the Naval Air Command in Nordholz is intended to mark the importance of the acceptance of the Sea Lion.
Airbus delivered the first successor to the venerable Sea King in October 2019, and is expected to deliver a total of 18 helicopters by 2022. Germany has also chosen the NH90 as its future multi-role frigate helicopter (MRFH), with first delivery tentatively scheduled for 2025.
As a naval transport helicopter, Sea Lion has a “harpoon” to secure itself on the flight deck of ships and an automatically folding rotor for the on-board hangar. It can be embarked on the German Navy’s Berlin-class fleet replenishment ships, but can also land on all other naval vessels with a flight deck.
The helicopter is mainly used for search and rescue (SAR) missions and for the transport of personnel and material. The helicopter can carry up to 20 people.
The Sea Lion can also serve as a reconnaissance helicopter thanks to a 360-degree maritime surveillance radar, infrared and video cameras combined with laser rangefinders and sensors for enemy radars.