Ministère de la Défense, February 06, 2020 - The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, welcomes the order for the first development work for the future light joint helicopter (HIL), a militarized version of the H160 helicopter from Airbus Helicopters.
To ensure the continuity of the missions of the French Navy between the withdrawal of service from the Alouette III and the arrival of the Guépard, the Navy has just ordered an interim fleet of helicopters composed of 12 Dauphins and 4 H160.
The Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) notified on December 30, 2019 to Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines, the pre-development market for the militarization of the H160 helicopter.
It concerns in particular to the adaptation of on-board instruments, sensors and the cabin to enable military missions to be carried out including those from French Navy ships.
The Guépard, which was presented for the first time in June 2019 at the Paris International Air Show and Space Le Bourget, will equip the three armed forces and replace the Army Gazelles, the Alouette III, Dauphin and Panther of the French Navy, and the Fennec of the Air Force.
Florence Parly announced in May 2019 her decision to accelerate the program to allow the first deliveries from 2026 with 2 years ahead of the initial schedule. This order confirms the acceleration of the program.
An unique fleet of helicopters for optimized support
In conjunction with the general staff, the DGA is continuing to define the performance and characteristics expected of the Guépard and its support system. The launch of the program is planned for 2021.
All of the project's stakeholders, DGA, Aeronautical Maintenance Department (DMAé), armed forces, Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines, continue in parallel their work on maintenance. The existence of a single helicopter fleet for the three armed forces should allow for a more efficient and optimized organization of support.
Thanks to its versatility, the Guépard will allow the military to carry out a wide variety of missions in a national or inter-allied framework. It will thus ensure the missions of armed reconnaissance, fire support, infiltration of special forces or medical evacuation in the Army. They will also carry out anti-ship, naval force protection, intelligence and maritime rescue missions within the French Navy. Finally, they will carry out missions in the Air Force to protect airspace, search and rescue and intelligence gathering.
Acquisition of an interim fleet of helicopters for the navy
The Alouette III of the navy are gradually withdrawn from service. An interim fleet of helicopters has just been ordered to ensure the continuity of the missions of the French Navy, while awaiting deliveries of the Guépard :
- The Aviation Maintenance Department (DMAé) ordered, on December 31, 2019, the lesaing and support of 12 Dauphins from the group formed by Heli-Union and DCI; after modification of the helicopters to allow them to operate from French Navy ships, they will enter service at the end of the year for a period of ten years.
- On January 31, 2020, the DGA notified a contract for four new H160 from Airbus Helicopters, Babcock and Safran Helicopters Engines. Used for search and rescue missions in the Atlantic and the Channel, they will be operational from 2022 for a period of 10 years. Support will be provided by manufacturers with a high availability commitment. This fleet of H160s will thus make it possible to acquire, for the benefit of the Guépard, feedback on the use of helicopters and their support.