The French defense procurement agency (DGA) has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters for the deliveries of first H160M helicopters within the Light Joint Helicopter program (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL).
The contract includes the development of several prototypes and the delivery of a first batch of 30 aircraft (21 for the army, 8 for the navy and one for the air force).
The French Ministry for the Armed Forces plans to order a total of 169 H160M helicopters, or Guépard, as it will be known in the French armed forces. Deliveries will start in 2027 beginning with the French Army.
Once it starts entering service, the new helicopter is set to replace the army’s Gazelles, the navy’s Alouette III, Dauphins and Panthers, and the air force’s Fennec helicopters.
“The Guépard is the result of ten years of close cooperation with the DGA and the French armed forces,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “The H160M will bring new capabilities to the armed forces as it is adapted to modern warfare thanks to its increased connectivity, maneuverability, low acoustic footprint, and a fully integrated support system.”
The first of a new generation of helicopters, the H160M is derived from the EASA-certified H160.
H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force.
Trials conducted in the Moroccan desert in July 2021 demonstrated the efficiency of the H160’s inlet barrier filtration system in protecting the Safran Arrano engines against sand ingestion. The tests in the desert also demonstrated the efficiency of the automatic flight control system during the takeoff and landing operations with limited visibility due to sand clouds.
The H160M will be equipped with Airbus Helicopters’ HForce weapon system, a modular and incremental solution enabling the use of a range of weapons. Equipment will also include a hoist and a fast roping arm.
The H160M Guépard will be equipped with the Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optical system, the Thales FlytX cockpit avionics suite, and AirMaster C radar. The pilots will be able to use the Thales TopOwl Helmet-mounted Sight & Display. The Guépard will also carry a self-protection suite, a satellite communication system and tactical data link system. The weapon package will include the MBDA ANL anti-ship missile, pod mounted and door mounted guns.