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Eurosatory 2024: Airbus flies special forces NH90 for France

Finished in ‘special forces black', the NH90 FS/Standard 2 for the French Army is now in a flight-test campaign that will run through to the end of 2024. (Airbus)

Airbus Helicopters has commenced the flight-test campaign of the NHIndustries (NHI) NH90 for French special forces. The NHI chief stakeholder announced the milestone at the Eurosatory 2024 defence exhibition in Paris on 18 June.

“Airbus Helicopters has launched the flight-test campaign for the prototype of the NH90 Standard 2. This standard is one of the latest NH90 configurations and is being developed specifically for the French Army [Light] Aviation, to support special forces' operations,” the company, which owns a 62.5% stake in NHI, said. It added that flight-testing will continue until the end of 2024 in accordance with the schedule agreed with the French Directorate General of Armament (Direction Générale de l'Armement: DGA). “The tests will validate the design of the new configuration,” Airbus said.

The Standard 2 configuration includes the Euroflir electro-optical system from Safran, the provision of the future defensive aids suite from Safran and a new TopOwl colour helmet-mounted display from Thales, a new digital map, a new larger cargo door to enable special forces to exit much quicker, and an enlarged and sliding rear window on each side of the aircraft to accommodate a gun.

Having previously stated that France is to convert “at least 10” of its 74 NH90 tactical transport helicopter (TTH) platforms to the new NH90 FS (Forces Spéciales)/Standard 2 special operations forces (SOF) configuration, Airbus confirmed at Eurosatory that with 81 NH90 TTH helicopters now on order (of which 63 have been delivered to date) the French Ministry of Armed Forces is to receive 18 NH90 FS/Standard 2 platforms.

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