The French Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) is to supply four H160s to the French Navy for search and rescue missions through a partnership between Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines.

The French Navy will start operating these helicopters in 2022 for a period of ten years. This interim fleet of H160s will enable the French Navy to ensure the continuity of these critical missions as the Alouette III retires from service and pending Guépard deliveries.

Airbus Helicopters, and its partners, will also be responsible for supporting the fleet with a high level of availability and performance commitments. In addition, French Navy operational feedback will be monitored to benefit the design of the military version of the H160 and its support system.

“We are proud that the French Navy will be operating the H160 for their search and rescue missions. We are sure that the improved situational awareness, increased pilot assistance, and visibility that the H160 provides will prove to be a valuable asset for their critical and demanding missions”, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.

“Our industrial partnership with Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines will allow us to ensure the highest level of availability for the French Navy and we are honoured to have been entrusted with this mission.”

The H160, as a next generation medium twin engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines, was designed to be a modular helicopter in order to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.

Its entry into service is planned for later in 2020. First deliveries of the equally modular military version, the H160M, or Guépard as it known in the French armed forces are planned in 2026. 169 H160Ms are foreseen in the frame of the Joint Light Helicopter programme (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) to replace five types of helicopters in service in the French armed forces.

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Lordtemplar (@guest_494684)
1 year ago

Best looking helicopter since Airwolf ?

Cam (@guest_494693)
1 year ago

We now only use Royal Marines Merlins for SAR but isn’t it a bit big for that role and can we use any wildcats?

Lusty (@guest_494709)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cam

If necessary, yes. SAR techniques are still practised with Wildcat and have been put into practise in real-world scenarios. HMS Monmouth’s Wildcat rescuing a crewmember of a sunken tanker in the Indian ocean and a Wildcat operating from RFA Mounts Bay are two examples.

Rudeboy (@guest_494943)
1 year ago
Reply to  Cam

Wildcat per hour cost is a lot, and they’re an asset in short supply.
For CSAR Merlin HC.4 makes a lot of sense.
But for day to day SAR/Planeguard on the QE Class it would make far more sense to use a H135 or H145. Far cheaper per flight hour, doesn’t use Wildcat or Merlin flight hours. And most of our pilots will have flown them before.

DaveyB (@guest_494787)
1 year ago

I don’t get it, France are ordering 169 H160s for all three services in various types. It is comparable with the Wildcat of which we operate 62 between the Army and Navy. So why did we buy so few?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay (@guest_494792)
1 year ago
Reply to  DaveyB

They are replacing 5 different helicopter types with the H160. It is also cheap, and doesn’t match the wildcat for capabilities. The French also don’t operate heavy lift helicopters such as the Chinook or the Merlin.

Lordtemplar (@guest_494804)
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

France is showing more and more interest in buying Chinooks.
The plan is to lease 2 CH 47F as a start to familiarize itself with use/maintenance and then proceed to purchase 10 to 20 of the long range variant MH 47G

Lordtemplar (@guest_494805)
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Blay
France is looking to buy some Chinooks. Lease 2 CH47 F for start and familiarize itself with the use/maintenance and then purchase 10 to 20 MH 47G, long range version needed for special ops as well