The six H160s will be delivered in a Search and Rescue (SAR) configuration. They will gradually start operating from May 2022 from Lanveoc-Poulmic naval air station (Britany), Cherbourg airport (Normandy) and Hyères naval air station (Provence). Awaiting the H160M “Guépard” deliveries in the frame of the French Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) programme, these H160s will take over the SAR missions currently conducted by the NH90s and Panthers, allowing these combat helicopters to fulfil their main tasks at sea onboard combat vessels.
The French Navy’s operational feedback with these H160s will benefit the design of the military version of the aircraft and its associated support system.
Babcock ordered the H160s in 2018. They will be maintained and equipped in partnership with Airbus Helicopters. Safran Engines will power up the helicopter. The six H160s will be equipped with a winch and a modular cabin that can be optimized for each mission. The H160s will be certified for the use of night vision goggles necessary for winching operations at night.
The six H160s will be modified into a light military configuration by Babcock, a critical, complex engineering services provider to governments to answer the French Navy’s needs. Babcock will integrate the Safran Electronics & Defense new-generation electro-optical system, Euroflir 410.
The H160, as a next-generation medium twin-engine aircraft powered by Arrano engines, is modular by design to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services.
169 H160Ms, “Guépard,” are foreseen in the frame of the HIL programme to replace five types of helicopters in service with the French armed forces.