PARIS – The NATO Helicopter Management Agency, acting on behalf of France, has signed a production contract with NHI Industries for 10 NH90 tactical troop helicopters, modernized to meet the needs of French special forces.
The French DGA announced at the end of September that it wanted the last batch of 10 NH90s it had already ordered to be transformed into special versions, the first five of which will be delivered in 2025 and the last five in 2026. will bring the number to 74. total of these devices in the French army.
The NATO agency acts not only on behalf of France, but also of Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, all partners of the NH90 program.
“The new features provide a substantial increase in the helicopter’s mission capability and clearly position the NH90 as one of the most advanced tactical troop carriers in the world, especially in difficult conditions such as sand, snow or fog ”, according to Airbus Helicopters. The company is one of the partners of the NHI Industries consortium with Leonardo and Fokker.
Preparatory studies for the new special forces equipment configuration, known as the TFRA Standard 2 configuration, began 18 months ago in cooperation with Belgium and Australia. The configuration will integrate a new generation Euroflir 410 electro-optical system (EOS) from Safran Electronics & Defense to improve obstacle and threat detection during tactical flight and in all night conditions. Pilots, commandos, gunners and load captains will all have access to displays and controls.
The rear of the aircraft will be upgraded to allow special insertion and extraction of patrols with a new system of quick-release swing doors and a quick rope beam. The side machine guns provide additional protection. In addition, various enhancements will be made to the cargo hold so that the rear door can be used during flight and to allow cargo personnel to view the video of the optronic observation system.
Complementing existing equipment such as M3M machine guns and external fuel tanks, other improvements to service special forces and French army pilots include next-generation 3D digital mapping, foldable boarding steps and additional rope anchors to the ceiling.
Electrical and mechanical arrangements will be put in place for the future integration of the improved version of the TopOwl helmet from Thales which will provide digital displays of the Eurofl’Eye and Euroflir piloting and mission sensors, augmented reality and 3D tactical symbols. In addition, a wide-field-of-view version of Safran’s Eurofl’Eye optronic system will later be integrated to support pilots flying in difficult conditions such as very dark nights or very sandy environments.
In total, 566 NH90 (TTH or Nato Frigate Helicopter versions) were purchased by the original five European partners, plus Australia, Finland, Greece, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar , Spain and Sweden. Some of these countries have expressed interest in re-configuring their own NH90s.