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French Navy becomes first military H160 operator

The first of six H160 helicopters for the French Navy was handed over by service provider Babcock on 22 September. (Jean-Marc Tanguy)

Babcock delivered its first Airbus Helicopters H160 rotorcraft to the French Navy on 22 September during a ceremony at Hyères Naval Air Station (NAS) in southeastern France.

The helicopter was the first of six that have been leased by Babcock as a service provider for 10 years. With the remainder to follow by the end of 2023, they are to be used for maritime search and rescue (SAR) and interdiction missions by French Navy commandos.

The first aircraft will be operational from May 2023 at the Cherbourg NAS, then at Lanvéoc-Poulmic NAS and Hyères NAS. Meanwhile, the navy will conduct operational trials of the new type – the first H160 used by any military in the world.

Babcock has extensively modified the aircraft supplied by Airbus Helicopters in May with a winch, as well as a Safran Euroflir 410 electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret and control station. From January 2023 this H160 will also be able to conduct fast rope operations with the commandos.

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