First flight of the H160 in June 2015 (Image © Thierry Rostan / Airbus Helicopters)

France: Airbus H160 as new tri-service chopper

France on Friday announced the selection of the Airbus H160 as the new helicopter for its  air force, army and navy. Around 170 new helicopters are needed to replace many dozens of older rotorcraft of various types. Deliveries of the H160, which currently is still under development, should start in 2024.

France is looking to replace many dozens of AS342 Gazelle, AS365 Dauphin, armed AS365 Panthers and AS555 Fennecs, plus SA330 Pumas.

The choice for the H160 is somewhat surprising, given the fact that Airbus only presented this new helicopter last year and is still busy developing the new chopper. The H160 includes many innovative features, including oddly shaped main rotor blades, which according to the manufacturer reduce noise and increase payload lift.