Tag Archives: NH90

Deck landings: getting your adrenaline up

Ok, so maybe today doesn’t offer the most challenging weather for deck landings in an NH90 helicopter. But when you’re in that same NH90 and you’re facing a wind and rain swept deck in high seas, it will get you adrenaline running and you’ll be thankful for every last bit of training you’ve had. And so, the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC) of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) regularly heads out to sea for deck landings aboard Dutch navy vessels. Even on a perfectly calm day such as this one.

Related reading: Dutch NH90 – ready to run. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Location: the North Sea, aboard the Royal Netherlands Navy’s 108 meter long Ocean-going Patrol Vessel (OPV) Zr. Ms. Groningen. Job at hand: landing an eleven tonnes NH90 helicopter on the 16 by 30 meter landing deck over the stern of the ship. Inbound for doing exactly that is Neptune 11, an NH90  from De Kooy Air Station near Den Helder, which is also the Royal Netherlands Navy’s home port.


As Neptune 11 approaches the ship, it becomes clear that these deck landings provide training to more than just the helicopter crew. It’s the flight deck crew who also are being put to work to gain experience in getting the helicopter down on the deck safely, which never is a routine task given ever changing winds and waves.

Suddenly, things are not so calm anymore. The flight deck becomes a flurry of noise, wind and rotor blades going around a high speed. The one braving the elements in particular is the flight deck officer, who has to withstand the gale-force downwash from the NH90’s main rotor. Using forceful hand signals and clear commands over the radio, the flight deck officer direct Neptune towards the desired landing spot.

(Image © Vincent Kok)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Vincent Kok)


Taking the flight deck officer’s directions and using other visual clues, the NH90 pilot seemingly without too much effort lands his helicopter aboard Zr. Ms Groningen and is immediately secured in place with chains. The NH90 is a hugely automated helo, but a landing like this mostly depends on pilot skills and smooth interaction between the helo’s crew and the folks on the flight deck.

(Image © Vincent Kok)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)

Take off

The helo is not here to stay, however. Shortly after landing and after another bit of hand signalling, the NH90 takes off while creating more hurricane-force winds for the deck crew to battle with. Throughout the rest of the day, this scene will be repeated many times as the cycle of approaching, landing and taking off continues.

(Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)


The NH90 has been in Dutch service for seven years now, first in what was called a Meaningful Operational Capability since upon delivery not all helicopter were fully equipped for all task. In their Final Radar Configuration, the helicopters are also capable of anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The first ASW-qualified Dutch crew recently took part in large scale exercise Joint Warrior. in which the crew successfully managed to find and track a Norwegian submarine.

And yes, during an exercise in the waters around Scotland, you are certainly glad that you’ve working on deck landings, adds NH90 pilot Tim. “As soon as you see the deck rolling, and you see the waves and the wind, that will certainly get your adrenaline up. You’ll be glad to know that you are properly trained and perfectly capable of landing that eleven tonnes helicopter on that ship.”

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Video filming & editing by Vincent Kok – www.imagingthelight.com

(Image © Vincent Kok)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Vincent Kok)


Norway: ‘NH90 not usable on board coast guard frigates’

Norway is reported by national newspaper Aftenposten to not be happy with the way its military NH90 helicopters operate in bad weather while at sea. Problems arise when the helicopter are parked on smaller coast guard frigates in high seas, sources tell.

The Norwegian military and coast guard apparently fear that NH90 helicopter will sustain damage while operating from the smaller frigates. They point out that Norwegian coast guard vessels are smaller in size than previous generations of ships, while the NH90 in fact is considerably bigger than the Lynx helicopter it replaces.

For now, the decision is to not operate the NH90 from the smaller vessels, even though the country aims to operate two HN90s in a  search-and-recue role for the coast guard.

In total, Norway ordered fourteen NHIndustries NH90 helicopters, at least six of which have already been delivered. Twelve NH90s are configured for the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role. For increased SAR coverage, the Nordic country has ordered sixteen additional AW101 helicopters.


Germany to send Tigers and NH90s to Mali

The Germany government is planning to send four NH90s medium transport helicopters and four Tiger light attack helicopter to Mali. In the African country, the helos will be used for the UN’s MINUSMA peace keeping mission. They will replace Dutch CH-47D Chinook and AH-64D Apache helicopters.

If parliament in Berlin approves the proposal, the helicopters will head for Mali in the first half of this year. The NH90s will be used for transport tasks, including the evacuation of wounded personnel. The Tigers will be there to provide securty. Both the NH90 and Tiger were used in Afghanistan before by the Germans, who encountered difficulties in operating the NH90 in ‘hot and high’ conditions.

Apart from Afghanistan, the Tiger attack helicopter also saw earlier use  in Libya, Somalia and Mali.

The Dutch contigent has been in Mali for three years. On 17 March 2015, a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Apache crashed with fatal consequences for the two crew. The cause was recently found to be a design flaw in the helicopter’s control system.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A German Tiger attack helicopter (Image © Marcel Burger)


Winter wonderland with Cold Blade 2016

UPDATED | Finnish and German military rotary aircraft and their crews had a blast this week up in Scandinavia. Exercise Cold Blade 2016 put machines and men & women to the test from 7 to 18 March 2016.

Place of the winter wonderland was Ivalo far up in the most Northeastern country, with the training area being about 40 km (25 miles) from the Russian border.

The Finnish Army (Maavoimat) played the leading role, with 6 of its 20 NHIndustries NH90s supported by 95 people. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) sent 2 of its 64 Sikorsky CH-53G Stallion and 70 personnel. Sweden sent some observers, while Italy dispatched a few trainees.

Cool shot of Finnish NH90s getting ready for action during Cold Blade 2016 (Image © Johannes Heyn)
Cool shot of Finnish NH90s getting ready for action during Cold Blade 2016 (Image © Johannes Heyn)
German CH-53Gs in the winter wonderland of Ivalo, Finland, during Cold Blade 2016 (Image © Johannes Heyn)
German CH-53Gs in the winter wonderland of Ivalo, Finland, during Cold Blade 2016 (Image © Johannes Heyn)

Operate in a challenging environment

Cold Blade, like its sister exercise Hot Blade in the Southern European countries, is aimed to train European helicopter crews and technicians to fly and operate in a challenging environment and to teach and learn techniques, tactics and procedures in those special conditions.

Finnish special forces

Simultaneously with Cold Blade the Finns ran Northern Griffin, an combat search and rescue exercise of Finnish special forces, enabling the NH90 and CH-53 crews to train with ground forces in infiltration and exfiltration. Airheadsfly.com guest photographer Johannes Heyn sent us some nice footage that we love to share with you.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Scandinavia can be extraordinary beautiful with sundown, or sunrise for that matter (Image © Johannes Heyn)

A Finnish Army NH90 on the ground, while a CH-53G stays on the look-out (Image © Johannes Heyn)
A Finnish Army NH90 on the ground, while a CH-53G stays on the look-out (Image © Johannes Heyn)
Nice panorama of the Luftwaffe Stallions in snowy Finland (Image © Christian Albrecht)
Nice panorama of the Luftwaffe Stallions in snowy Finland (Image © Johannes Heyn)

Norway takes first sonar equipped NH90

Norway last week took delivery of its sixth NH90 helicopter. It also the first for the Norwegians to be sonar equipped, according to NHIndustries. The Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) accepted the aircraft which then made its way north from its birth place in Tessera, Italy.

The delivery marks the end of the first phase of the Norwegian production program. The NH90 will start operations aboard Norwegian vessels later this year. The next phase of the program includes the delivery of six helicopters configured for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and two further helicopters configured for Coast Guard operations.

Total deliveries

In the front the first German NH90 Sea Lion, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Related reading: First Sea Lion for Germany.(Image © Dennis Spronk)

As of now, 270 NH90 helicopters have been delivered in naval and tactical transport variants. They are in service in Germany, France, Spain, Italy,tThe Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Greece, Oman, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand.

The twin-engine, medium-size NH90 helicopter program is managed by consortium NHIndustries, which is made up by Finmeccanica Helicopter Division (32%), Airbus Helicopters (62.5%) and Fokker Aerostructures (5.5%).

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The Norwegian NH90 seen during the handover. (Image © NHIndustries)