Jun 20, 2015

France to modify NH90 for special forces sooner than expected

France's special forces are poised to begin operating the NH90 Caïman sooner than expected, after the helicopter proved itself during Operation 'Barkhane' in Mali.
The 4ème RHFS is expected to customise the NH90 for the special forces role, and the familiarisation will play a key role in shaping their requirements. It is expected that the 4ème RHFS will want to add another electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) system for observation, a datalink, and a rope system for extraction. A basic set of requirements for customising the NH90 to special forces' needs could be written before the year's end.
Compared with the H225 Caracal, the NH90 offers better range and speed.
Initial operational capability on the NH90 was declared before the 1er Régiment d'Hélicoptères de Combat (RHC) deployed to Mali in November 2014, although full operational capability will not be announced before mid-2016.
Within a few months, the Malian theatre should receive a third NH90 and a plan exists to send a fourth one in due course. Fifteen have been delivered so far, as the availability of the airframes is not an issue, but the French Army Light Aviation (ALAT) is struggling to train more crew and maintenance specialists.

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