The two versions of Qatar’s new NH90 helicopters performed their inaugural flights last week as the manufacturers prepare for first deliveries by the end of the next year.
The first of 12 NH90 naval variants and the first of 16 tactical transport variants flew at the Leonardo plant in Venice Tessera and the French production site of Airbus Helicopters in Marignane.
Leonardo acts as prime contractor with responsibility for program management, final assembly and delivery of the 12 NH90 NFH helicopters from the Venice – Tessera plant and the provision of support and training services for crews and maintenance technicians.
The acceptance of the first NH90s destined for the Qatar Air Force is scheduled for the end of 2021, while the delivery of the last helicopter will take place in 2025.
Managed through the NHIndustries joint venture, the NH90 is the largest military helicopter program in Europe with approximately 430 units in service worldwide and over 270,000 flight hours accumulated by carrying out missions in the most diverse weather conditions, in land and sea.
The program for NH90 helicopters destined for the Qatar Air Force reached an important milestone last week with the first flights to Italy and France. The first NH90 for naval use (NFH) assembled at the Leonardo plant in Venice – Tessera and the first for land use (TTH) built at the Airbus Helicopters industrial site in Marignane (France) flew respectively on December 15 and 18.
The flight activities allowed the crews to evaluate the general characteristics of controllability and the correct functioning of the main systems with results in line with expectations.
The NH90 program for Qatar includes 16 NH90 TTHs, 12 NH90 NFHs, a full package of support, maintenance, training and infrastructure. The program could be further expanded in the future with the addition of another 12 units (6 TTH + 6 NFH).
“We are delighted to celebrate this important achievement in the development path of this program. The NH90 will equip an important customer such as the Qatari Ministry of Defense with extraordinary operational capabilities for a wide range of missions,” Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters, said.