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NATO helicopter project partners agree on clean sheet design for next-gen rotorcraft

Illustration: Italian Navy file photo of a medium/heavy EH-101 ASH (assault support helicopter)

NATO countries taking part in the Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability (NGRC) project met on the margins of the NATO defense ministerial meeting on June 16, where they discussed next steps for the program.

The defense ministers of France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom dedicated 26.7 million EUR to define the future of their helicopter fleets.

In cooperation with industry, the participants will start from a clean sheet to explore how to match their needs with the latest technology on the market, looking at options such as hybrid and electric propulsion, a systematic open system architecture, and the delivery of radically improved flight characteristics.

“This is a clear example of NATO and allies working together to harness fast-changing technology for the benefit of our military capabilities. By investing our resources and channeling our development through a multinational framework, we are making sure Allies will be equipped with the best available equipment”, stressed the NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană.

The partners first agreed on the cooperation in November 2020, with an eye on finding a solution for a significant number of medium multi-role helicopters currently operated by allies reaching the end of their life cycle in the 2035 – 2040 period and beyond.

The NGRC concept stage will provide the foundation for allies to develop and field the next generation of these indispensable workhorses.

The NGRC constitutes one of NATO’s multinational High Visibility Projects and demonstrates NATO Allies’ commitment to maintain a technological edge and to pursue multinational cooperation.