Five NATO countries have signed an agreement on the joint development and construction of a new medium-lift multi-role helicopter.
France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom announced the launch of the “Next-Generation Rotorcraft Capabilities” project on November 19. The project is dedicated to the modernization of existing rotorcraft fleets and is one of NATO’s High Visibility Projects (HVP).
The project is being undertaken as a significant number of medium multi-role helicopters currently operated by allies will reach the end of their life cycle in the 2035 – 2040 period and beyond, with the subsequent need for replacements.
The Next Generation Rotorcraft project will aim to develop a solution for these upcoming requirements, according to NATO.
The letter of intent signed by the defense ministers of the five member countries states that the helicopter would be “an entirely new capability.”
“By investing our resources and channeling our development initiatives through a multinational framework, we are making sure Allies are equipped with the best available capabilities, which helps to maintain NATO’s technological edge”, stressed NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană.
The NATO countries are embarking on the project at the same time the US Army is in the process of selecting its future vertical lift (FVL) capability. The UK, one of the five partner countries in the new NATO helicopter project, entered into an agreement with the US earlier this year on joint modernization of the British and US armies. One of the main focus points of the agreement was collaboration on the future vertical lift program with the aim of creating closer affiliation in the development of helicopter capability.