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German Navy receives final Sea Lion helicopter

The 18th and final NH90 Sea Lion naval utility helicopter ‘79+51' arrives at the German Navy's airbase in Nordholz on 31 January 2023. (Bundeswehr/Julia Kelm)

The German Navy has received its final NH90 Sea Lion naval utility helicopter.

The delivery completes the contract for a total of 18 aircraft awarded by Germany's Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support of the German Armed Forces (BAAINBw) to NHIndustries in June 2015.

Germany selected the Sea Lion, which is based on the NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) variant, as the successor to the navy's ageing Westland Mk 41 Sea Kings in March 2013. Airbus Helicopters delivered the first Sea Lion to BAAINBw in October 2019, and the Germany Navy officially accepted the first unit into service in June 2020.

The NH90 Sea Lions will be deployed for a wide range of roles, including search-and-rescue (SAR), maritime surveillance, vertical replenishment, as well as personnel and material transportation missions. In addition to its land-based use, the Sea Lion will also operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships.

Under a separate contract signed in November 2020, the German Navy is set to take delivery of 31 Sea Tiger helicopters to replace 22 Sea Lynx Mk 88A helicopters from 2025. The Sea Lynx helicopters have been in service since 1981. The Sea Tiger variant is based on the Sea Lion configuration, but adds a tactical mission suite to enable it to perform anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare.

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