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France launches pre-development of militarised H160

The French Ministry of the Armed Forces announced on 6 February the launch of the pre-development phase for the military version of the Airbus Helicopters H160 rotorcraft. The contract for the H160M Guépard was actually awarded to Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines on 30 December 2019.

The H160M will replace a large number of existing helicopter types in service with the French armed forces, with deliveries set to begin in 2026. (Airbus Helicopters)

The H160M will replace a large number of existing helicopter types in service with the French armed forces, with deliveries set to begin in 2026. (Airbus Helicopters)

The launch of the programme is scheduled for 2021 and the first Guépards should be delivered from 2026. Two years ahead of the initial planning.

Under the pre-development contract Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines will specifically work on the H160M avionics, sensors, and cargo area accommodations according to the French ministry of the Armed Forces. Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopters will also work on the GuĂ©pard’s navalisation. Studies are being conducted in parallel on the H160M future maintenance plan.

Prior to launching production of the H160M, the contractors should also work on integrating self-protection equipment and a weapons suite including the Sea Venom anti-ship missile, pod mounted and door machine guns. According to the full-scale model of the GuĂ©pard (“Cheetah”) unveiled by Airbus Helicopters in May 2019, the militarised version of the H160 will also feature deflectors on the engine air outtakes to reduce the helicopter’s thermic signature.

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