Airbus Helicopters announced on 24 October that it has delivered the first NH90 SEA LION helicopter to the German armed forces, with two further examples (of the total 18 on order for the German Navy) to be delivered before the end of the year.
Selected as the replacement for the SEA KING in 2013, a production contract was assigned in 2015 and delivery of all 18 aircraft is due to be completed by 2022. When deployed, the SEA LIONs will take on a wide range of roles including search and rescue (SAR), maritime reconnaissance, special forces as well as personnel and equipment transport missions. In addition to land-based use, it will also operate from the BERLIN-class Type 702 combat support ships.
“During the summer, we successfully completed demonstration flights involving the German Navy and BAAINBw [the Federal Office of Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support] to verify the SEA LION capabilities for search and rescue as well as special forces missions. I am confident that these helicopters will bring next-generation capabilities to the German Navy, and I’m committed to ensure the best level of support for the SEA LION fleet,” commented Airbus Helicopters Deutschland CEO, Wolfgang Schoder.
Thanks to its multi-role capability and growth capability, the SEA LION will not only replace the German Navy’s SEA KING Mk41 fleet, but will significantly enhance its operational capabilities.
Its fly-by-wire flight controls reduce crew workload as a result of high precision and ease of use, which become particularly evident in over-water hovering, even in poor weather conditions. The German Navy has also recently opted for the naval version of the NH90 to succeed its 22 SEA LYNX Mk 88A on-board helicopters, which have been in service since 1981.
Five nations are already using the NH90 in its naval NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) version and have completed more than 50,000 flying hours in SAR, humanitarian and military missions with the 90 helicopters that have been delivered so far. The 399 helicopters that make up the worldwide NH90 fleet have already completed over 230,000 flying hours. This first SEA LION is also the 400th NH90 helicopter to be delivered.