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EU launches Next Generation Medium Helicopter programme

The newly announced Next Generation Medium Helicopter programme will develop future rotorcraft technologies into retrofits for existing helicopters or as newbuild helicopters. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The European Union (EU) has launched the Next Generation Medium Helicopter (NGMH) programme geared at converting future rotorcraft technologies into fieldable solutions, either as retrofits to existing platforms or as newbuild aircraft.

Announced on 23 May as part of a wider raft of new Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) projects, NGMH sees France (lead), Italy, Finland, and Sweden come together to address operational needs on the upgrade of existing fleets and on the European Next-Generation Rotorcraft Technologies (ENGRT) programme, harmonising the needs and timelines of EU countries on the future capabilities of rotorcraft.

β€œThe NGMH will ensure the availability and suitability of EU helicopter fleets until 2040, and the preparation of the [ENGRT], including the ability to face high intensity conflicts,” the EU said.

As noted in the announcement, NGMH builds on ENGRT work already being undertaken by France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. Launched on 1 December 2022 with Airbus Helicopters co-leading the project alongside Leonardo Helicopters, ENGRT is geared at developing technologies and concepts of operation for future military rotorcraft in Europe.

With NGMH and ENGRT running in tandem, both projects will run parallel to the NATO Next-Generation Rotorcraft Capability (NGRC). First reported by Janes in late 2020, the NGRC sees European NATO members France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK (later joined by Canada) developing a new medium-lift helicopter for the 2035–40 timeframe.

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