The French military has ordered a total of 169 H160M Guepard helicopters from multinational aerospace firm Airbus as part of the country’s Light Joint Helicopter program.
In a press release, the company said that the agreement covers the development of various H160M prototypes and the initial delivery of 21 Guepards to the army, eight to the navy, and one to the air force.
Airbus chief executive officer Bruno Even explained that the H160M aircraft would bring new capabilities to the French military since it is designed and developed to survive modern warfare.
“Having the French armed forces, a world reference, as our launch customer for the H160M is extremely valuable,” Even said, adding that the helicopter is the result of the company’s 10-year cooperation with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) and the armed forces.
Deliveries of the H160M helicopters will begin in 2027.
Development of the #H160M #Guepard has been launched. The French Ministry for the Armed Forces plans to order a total of 169 #H160M. A single platform performing commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, & anti-ship warfare missions. 🚁🇫🇷 https://t.co/ZjrZCHnoAx
— Airbus Helicopters (@AirbusHeli) December 22, 2021
Regarded as the first of a new generation of military helicopters, the H160M is a modular aircraft with a single platform that supports a wide variety of missions, including commando infiltration, air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare.
Its design allows reduced operating costs and optimized flight safety that meets the needs of the military.
Additionally, developers ensured the craft had improved stability, maneuverability, a low acoustic footprint, a fully integrated support system, and automatic flight control.
The H160M will be equipped with the HForce weapon system, which enables a wide choice of weapons such as the MBDA ANL anti-ship missile and pod-mounted guns. The helicopter will also carry a self-protection suite, a satellite communication system, and a tactical data link system.
Earlier this year, the aircraft demonstrated its advanced capabilities in the Moroccan desert, showing the efficiency of its inlet barrier filtration system in protecting the engines against sand congestion.
Light Joint Helicopter Program
The French military’s Light Joint Helicopter program was created to replace five separate fleets of helicopters with a fleet consisting of just one type of helicopter used by all three branches of the French armed forces.
The program also seeks overall improvement in the fleet, as well as to maintain its operational condition.
The government believes that having only one type of helicopter in operation would allow the armed forces to reduce development costs since its spare parts could be bought in bulk.