In spite of the relationships, sometimes tense with Airbus Helicopters, Australia continues to grant him his trust. As well, Canberra has recently decided to launch a deep modernization of twelve of his MRH90 to equip its special forces, according to several sources. This program of modernization of the land-oriented version of the NH90 (TTH) is shortly to be announced by the Australians, who had placed an order in 2005 to 46 MRH90, and had then obtained an additional device in 2013 as part of the settlement of litigation. All appliances will be delivered this year.
This will benefit France, where an important part of the development of the NH90 FS will be performed. The amount of the contract would amount to a few hundreds of millions of euros. In 2001, Australia had also bought France’s Tiger combat helicopter (22 copies).
A victory in the face of Sikorsky
It is a very good news for Airbus Helicopters. First, the signing of a contract is always good to take especially in the depressed environment of the world market of helicopters. Moreover, it is not so bad also in the context of very complicated or even suspicious in that work the commercial of Airbus. In addition, a part of the contract will be entrusted to the education offices in Marignane, where are assembled the TTH. Especially, Airbus Helicopters wins again in Australia against the Black Hawk (Sikorsky). What is important for the european manufacturer.
Finally, this command could also be a trigger for France and Norway, which will launch soon a call for tenders to equip its special forces. In France, the commander of the special operations (COS), general Grégoire de Saint-Quentin, had estimated in June 2016 during a hearing at the national assembly that “the need is of the order of 24 aircraft”. And he wanted to “move rapidly to the 4th helicopter regiment special forces of machines of last generation, such as the NH90. Such a device is essential to ensure the proper level of requirement and capacity of COS for the next fifteen years”.
Devices to reconfigure
To meet the requirements of a special operation, general Grégoire de Saint-Quentin had believed that it was “necessary to supplement the capacity of” the NH90, which has not been originally developed for the special forces. “It requires several developments, without being exhaustive, the avionics, communications, armament, or addition of optional equipment for the rope use with military helicopters,” he said. In the field of radar, he wanted to have the best capabilities in the field of infrared imaging frontal (FLIR), allowing an observing distant obstacles and the enemy, and to land without visibility, by night and dark and in the dust in complete safety. It would also move the weapon to port to release the access doors, which are essential for the commandos.
This folder, which has not yet been concluded, was, in his eyes, “of particular importance”, in particular, to have a park of machinery adapted to the missions. According to the general, this helicopter will significantly enhance the aéromobilité special forces and will allow to homogenize the fleet, “a guarantee of efficiency”. Because it is a platform recent service in the rest of the armies, which allows you to share maintenance costs by using the same mechanics. “It is essential then that our army remains small in projection,” he explained.