Dec 1, 2014
Germany proposes 'shared' multinational NH90 helicopter fleet
The concept, which it calls the “multinational helicopter unit”, is part of a broader framework agreement the nation’s defence ministry hammered out with Airbus Helicopters as it looks to formalise planned cuts to its overall NH90 order.
Berlin initially committed to 120 NH90 TTHs, but in 2013 it concluded a memorandum of understanding with the airframer – which is the majority shareholder in the NHI consortium – to cut its acquisition to 80 units with 22 options. In addition, it proposed to take 18 examples of the NFH variant for use by its navy.
However, formal ratification of the deal was put on hold.
The pact must now pass before Germany’s parliament for approval before a binding contract can be signed.
The ministry says the shortage of transport helicopters that afflicted the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan was in part the inspiration for its plans for the shared resource.
Germany has so far taken delivery of 37 NH90s, with the latest example handed over last week. It has yet to declare full operational capability for the helicopter, with this milestone anticipated in late 2016.
If approved, the NFHs will begin to arrive from 2018 to replace the navy’s aged fleet of 20 Westland Sea King 41s.
As part of the same pact, Airbus Helicopters will now no longer buy back 11 early production examples of the Tiger UHT attack helicopter. Instead, Germany will retain them to use as donor aircraft for spare parts and cancel a separate spares acquisition.
Berlin has cut its order from 80 to 57 of the helicopters, with the operational Tiger fleet capped at 40 examples.