Tag Archives: NH90

Norway and Sweden preparing for Cold Response 2016

A giant winter war exercise is on its way in Norway. Cold Response 2016 kicks off in March, but already now preparations are on their way. Sweden takes it extra seriously, the country runs a pre-excercise of its own: Vintersol (Wintersun).

A few days ago a US Marines CH-53 Sea Stallion was offloaded from a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy on Vaernes Airbase in Norway. From 2 to 9 March the Marines will fight their way through the Trøndelag counties in Central Norway, together or against forces of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and, of course, Norway. It is such a big exercise that it will take another 13 days to repatriate all equipment involved.

Among the 15,000 troops expected to participate are many Swedes. To be fully ready a thousand Swedes are waging a winter war against each other from 5 to 10 February near Boden in the far north of the country. They include the crew of a NH90 helicopter – dubbed HKP 14 in Swedish service – flying in artillery command.

In 2018 Norway will see an even larger exercise when Trident Juncture is held with 25,000 participants.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Another run with the HKP 14 during Vintersol 2016 (Image © Jesper Sundström / Försvarsmakten)

First picture: NH90 Sea Lion for Germany

An Airheadsfly.com visit to Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth on Friday 22 January produced the very first picture of the first NH90 Sea Lion helicopter for the Germany Navy. The helicopter is currently in final assembly and along with 17 others and from 2019 onwards, replaces the Sea King helos still in use with the Marine.

The first Sea Lion entered final assembly in October and is now having its electrical harnesses fitted, after which avionics and initial mission equipment will be installed. The helicopter is expected to fly for the first time in November 2016.

The naval variant differs from German Army NH90s as it has a stronger landing gear for deck landings, plus provisions for the installation of a full anti-submarine warfare (ASW) kit and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) kit. The German government still has to decide on the exact specifications, though. The Netherlands, France, Italy, Norway and Sweden already operate ASW-versions of the NH90.

Search and rescue

In 2019, the Sea Lion will be ready to take over search and rescue (SAR) plus transport and support duties from the Sea King, the oldest of which dates back to 1973. At a later stage, the new NH90 should be ready also to take over the ASW and ASuW role from current Super Lynx helos.

With the engines ans landing gear installed, this brand new NH90 for the German army, is almost ready to be moved to the so called Flightline hangar at Donauwörth for test flights (Image © Dennis Spronk)
With the engines ans landing gear installed, this brand new NH90 for the German army is almost ready to be moved to the so called Flightline hangar at Donauwörth for test flights. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
In the front the first German NH90 Sea Lion, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Airbus Helicopters is ramping up production tempo a bit in 2016. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Production

The last of 18 Sea Lions – total estimated cost 1.4 billion EUR – is to be delivered in 2022. Airbus Helicopters will slightly push production tempo in Donauwörth a bit to over ten NH90 helicopters per year. These also include the remaining NH90s for the German army, plus more ASW-variants for Sweden. Worldwide, 35 to 50 NH90s are manufactured yearly.

The NH90 has suffered from a bad reputation in Germany over maintenance and reliability issues. Airbus Helicopters is now retrofitting early production helicopters with the latest configuration including software and other upgrades. The company also says it is now getting good and positive feedback from NH90-pilots.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The first German NH90 Sea Lion in production, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The first German NH90 Sea Lion in production, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Production of a single NH90 takes about 12 months. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

France: six more NH90 helicopters

France has ordered six additional NH90 helicopters in tactical troop transport (TTH) configuration, the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) said on Thursday 7 January. The order closely follows that of seven more Tiger attack helicopters in December.

The new NH90 order brings the total amount of NH90 TTHs on order for the French Army Aviation to 74. Since 2010, the type has been deployed by several countries in different theatres of operation. An extensive list of role-tailored equipment allows the NH90 to fit operators’ mission needs.

Contrast

The NH90 is a helicopter of contrast. It is critized for its complexity and program costs in countries such as Finland and Germany, but applauded by its pilot in the Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand.

To date, around 270 NH90 have been delivered to 13 countries and have logged nearly 100,000 flight hours, confirming the success of this helicopter on the export market.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A French NH90 in spectaculair surroundings. (Image © Airbus Helicopters / Frederic Lert)

First anti-submarine NH90 for Sweden – finally

In a program plagued by delay after delay, Airbus Helicopters on Thursday 17 December finally delivered the first anti-submarine warfare-equipped NH90 helicopter to Sweden. The Scandinavian country desperately has been needing an advanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability for years, as its waters in the Baltic Sea are regularly visited by submarines and submersibles, supposedly mainly of Russian origin.

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration FMV (Försvarets Materielverk) took delivery of the NH90. The helo has a customized mission system including underwater sonar, tactical radar and high cabin for improved interior space. In total, Sweden has ordered 18 NH90s, 13 equipped for search-and-rescue missions (SAR) and five in ASW configuration. In Swedish service the type is dubbed HKP14 (Helikopter 14).


RELATED POST:
Winching on Swedish NH90 not so easy, yet

Operational winch testing with the HKP14 (NH90) of the Swedish Armed Forces. Notice two crew members to operate the winch safely (Image © Trejde helikoterflottiljen / Försvarsmakten)
Operational winch testing with the HKP14 (NH90) of the Swedish Armed Forces. Notice two crew members to operate the winch safely (Image © Trejde helikoterflottiljen / Försvarsmakten)


HKP14 Configurations

The first of the ASW HKP14 has now been delivered, with four more following. Also, four SAR-configured Swedish NH90s will be re-configured into the same ASW-platform. In the end, Sweden will therefore have nine NH90s for SAR duties and nine for ASW tasks. The Swedish ASW variant has been in development since 2007. Delays sparked strong criticism from the Swedish military, with some officials quoted as having lost confidence in the program.

A HKP14 in Swedish Army livery. All military rotary wing of Sweden is flown by various units of the Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Command (Helikopterflottiljen) (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A HKP14 in Swedish Army livery. All military rotary wing of Sweden is flown by various units of the Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Battalion (Helikopterflottiljen) (Image © Elmer van Hest)

UH60M Black Hawk

The introduction of the NH90 into the Swedish army was also not without problems. To overcome these, Sweden took desperate measures in 2010 and ordered 15 UH-60M (HKP16) Black Hawk helicopters as a stop gap. Having become the first export customer of that version of the Black Hawk and very happy with its performance, Sweden will keep the Sikorsky tactical transport helicopters besides the 18 HKP14s.


RELATED POST:
Last Super Puma of Sweden retired

The retired HKP 10. Seen here at the 2012 Swedish Military Airshow at F3 Linköping-Malmen. (Image © Marcel Burger)
The retired HKP 10. Seen here at the 2012 Swedish Military Airshow at F3 Linköping-Malmen. (Image © Marcel Burger)


Helikopterflottiljen

All helicopters in Swedish military service are operated by the Swedish Armed Forces Helicopter Battalion (Försvarsmaktens Helikopterflottiljen). With its headquarters at Linköping-Malmen, the choppers fly from that airbase as well as Luleå-Kallax in the far north and Ronneby near Karlskrona in the far south. Apart from the HKP14s and HKP16s, the battalion operates 12 AgustaWestland HKP15A (A109) battlefield support helicopters as well as 8 AgustaWestland HKP15B (A109) maritime helicopters. Once the last NH90 has been delivered the total fleet will be 45 helicopters.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest and Marcel Burger
Feature image: The HKP14 in ASW-configuration (Image © Airbus Helicopters)

Winching on Swedish NH90 not so easy, yet

Rescuing people from the icy waters of Scandinavia with the winch on the new NH90 helicopter is not so easy, the Swedish Armed Forces discovered during tests the last few months. Unless there is sufficient crew on board, the risk of the winch cable damaging the helicopter is a serious concern.

Currently the winch operator has to hold wire away from the chopper by hand or foot, with another crew member holding him safe. Once out on a real operation there may that person, with the two pilots/navigators in the front and the diver in the water. But technicians of the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) and the Third Helicopter Squadron (Tredje helikopterskvadronen) think that with some additional equipment it may work.

Submarine hunting

The maritime version of the HKP14 (Helikopter 14) – as the NH90 is dubbed in Swedish military service – will be on the forefront of submarine hunting in the near future. Sweden lost serious airborne capacity when the Boeing-Vertol/Kawasaki HKP4 (model 107, CH-46 in USMC service) was decommissioned in 2011. HKP14 field tests as underwater reconnaissance asset with dipping sonar is planned for 2016.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Operational winch testing with the HKP14 (NH90) of the Swedish Armed Forces. Notice two crew members to operate the winch safely (Image © Trejde helikoterflottiljen / Försvarsmakten)