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In collaboration with the French defence procurement agency, the DGA, Airbus Helicopters is pursuing a fresh set of studies aimed at furthering the militarisation of the H160 and to define its associated support ecosystem in the context of the Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger (HIL – Joint Light Helicopter) programme.

The contract launches pre-development activities for the military version of the H160, known as GUÉPARD by the French armed forces, in order to meet the delivery schedule brought forward in May last year by French Armed Forces Minister, Florence Parly.

The new set of studies will also focus on defining the optimal set-up for supporting the tri-service H160M fleet. Airbus Helicopters, Safran Helicopter Engines and the DGA will work closely together in order to maximize the availability rate of the helicopters, as well as optimizing the cost of supporting the fleet.

Launching this collaborative work between Industry and the Ministry of the Armed Forces in order to define the support framework for the GUÉPARD and the associated processes, as early as the pre-development phase, is essential. The output will provide us with all the levers necessary to ensure a high level of availability at the H160M’s entry into service in the French armed forces,” said Alexandra Cros, Vice President and Head of Governmental Affairs France at Airbus Helicopters. “The studies build upon the work and commitments taken recently in the global support contracts for the COUGAR, CARACAL, and TIGER fleets of the French armed forces”.

The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support and anti-ship warfare, in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme. Bringing programme launch forward to 2021 will enable first deliveries to the French armed forces in 2026.

Fresh studies are accelerating the development programme for the H160, with initial deliveries now foreseen for 2026. (Photo: Airbus Helicopters)

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