After conversations with leading NHIndustries partner Airbus Helicopters the German Armed Forces put their NH90 helicopters back on duty, according to a written message Airheadsfly.com received from Airbus Helicopters on 23 February 2015. The Bundeswehr confirmed the statement.
Germany stopped routine flying operations with its NH90 helicopters on 6 February, after an apparent design flaw was found in the Overhead Control Panel (OHCP) in the cockpit that could lead to a short circuit and engine trouble. A major incident happened in Uzbekistan last year, when an engine exploded during a medevac flight. Back home the OHCP caused trouble at least on three or four separate occasions, according to Bundeswehr reports leaked to the German press.
Airbus Helicopters was quick in asking Berlin to return the helos back to flight status. The Bundeswehr has now complied: “The needed technical improvements to take away the fault have been developed by the manufacturer, but the implementation of the constructive change to all affected NH90s has not been executed yet.”
One of several adaptations in operational procedures is that the crew will vent before every engine start to prevent damage from occurring. “With that the risk of engine problems and related malfunctioning in the OHCP can be minimized,” the Bundeswehr states. With a permanent solution awaiting, the German Armed Forces leadership has regained enough confidence to clear the NH90s for normal flying operations. Other NH90 users might use venting-before-start as well to prevent worse.
The purchase of 24 French-made Dassault Rafale fighter by Egypt opens up possibilities for a sale of Airbus Helicopters to the North African country. As the Rafale deal includes the transfer of French Navy multi-purpose FREMM frigate D651 Normandie, it might be an excellent opportunity for the Egyptian Air Force to renew its aging Westland Seaking maritime helicopter fleet. With the current warm relationship between Cairo and Paris, Aérospatiale designs managed by Airbus Helicopters can be on the front-row of negotiations.
The French Navy is not really amused by its government’s decision to quickly transfer one of its eight planned FREMM frigates, produced by DCNS, less than half a year after it was commissioned at its homeport of Brest. Only one other vessels of the class is in service: D650 Aquitaine. Normandie was still very much in its trail period, like its newest sister D652 Provence. The Normandie crew will now move to the Provence. The vessel will be re-located from planned homebase of Toulon to Brest “to ensure French Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities on the Atlantic Coast as originally planned”, according to a French Navy statement.
The Provence’s crew will move to the upcoming fourth vessel of the class, D653 Languedoc, which has been launched 12 July 2014 with planned commissioning in 2016. The retirement plan for the older FASM frigates Montcalm and Jean de Vienne has been delayed until 2017 and 2018.
France plans to operate the NHIndustries NH90NFHs from the FREMM frigates, which have hangar space for one helicopter, but is unlikely that Egypt will opt for that machine. The Egyptian Navy doesn’t have any air assets itself, but the Egyptian Air Force holds 10 Kaman SH-2G Super Seasprites and 5 Westland Sea King helicopters available for shipborne tasks, besides 9 Aérospatiale Gazelles for coastal reconnaissance. For a possible replacement the AS565 MBe Panther anti-submarine warfare (ASW) that Airbus Helicopters is selling to Indonesia looks to be an interesting option.
However, the cheapest solution for the Egyptian Air Force and Navy would be to commission one of the three Seasprites that are held in reserve. But the FREMM frigate purchase might just mean a break for the Egyptian military to replace the Sea Kings, giving Airbus Helicopters new possibilities.
Germany has stopped routine flying operations with its troubled NH90 helicopters, the German Bundeswehr announced on Friday 6 February. An investigation into an incident that happened last year in Uzbekistan, has led to the decision.
The investigation by Airbus Helicopters found a design flaw in an Overhead Control Panel (OHCP) in the NH90’s cockpit, where a fire suppression switch for the engines could cause a short circuit. Subsequently, the Bundeswehr flight safety authority recommended all routine NH90 operations to be halted, a decision that is now supported by Berlin.
On 19 June 2014, a German NH90 got into big troubles in Uzbekistan as one of its engines exploded during a medical evacuation flight, causing the German Army (Heeresflieger) to already temporary ground the fleet back then. Four NH90TTHs deployed to Afghanistan already in April 2013 to provide a Forward Air Medical Evacuation in Mazar-i-Sharif but were met with additional operational problems in the hot-and-high operations as well. Apart from the big incident, aviators reported issues with other systems as well.
Germany has about forty NH90 helicopters at its disposal. The Bundeswehr now says it expects Airbus Helicopters to come up with a solution as quickly as possible. Berlin confirmed in December it had 80 NH90TTHs on firm order (including the forty delivered) and was still opting for another 22.
The French armed forces are stepping up efforts against the rebel / terrorist organisation Boko Haram in Nigeria. French officials told Reuters that their military planes are conducting reconnaissance missions on the edges, but not in, Nigerian airspace.
It is very much likely that it are the Rafales which are conducting the recon missions against Boko Haram, in order to help the Chadian and Nigerian military to combat this force that has grown more dangerous over the last couple of months. N’Djamena is only 30 miles (50 km) from the Nigerian border. The French Army has 3,200 troops in Chad and Mali to fight what is officially called by the French “la bande sahélo-saharienne (BSS): Mauritanie, Mali, Niger, Tchad et Burkina-Faso”. The French forces include Tigre attack and NH90 transport helicopters.
Force Aérienne Tchadienne
A Chadian Air Force (Force Aérienne Tchadienne) jet – likely one of six Sukhoi Su-25s – bombed Boko Haram troops in a Nigerian border town last month, sources say, in an attempt to help downgrade the threat of the rebel group. The Chadian military will take part in the African Union (AU) force that is said to number 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Benin as well to combat Boko Haram. If the AU succeeds in getting a UN Security Council mandate other nations – including the French – might step in to provide military airlift.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is upgrading its new NH90 helicopters, while the type is still in its delivery phase.
Danish Terma has struck a deal with the RNLAF to integrate the company’s Modular Aircraft Survivability (MASE) Pod onto the NH90, which are operated as shipborne helicopters on the Royal Netherlands Navy frigates, amphibian command ships and supply vessels.
The MASE Pod holds Electronic Warfare Management System, ALQ-213 in the latest version, Missile Warning sensors, and Chaff/Flare Dispenser modules. The modular design allows for future integration of coming sensors and new requirements. Terma has collaborated with the RNLAF and The Netherlands’ Defence Materiel Organization for more than 20 years, integrating the EW suite on many RNLAF aircraft.
Terma develpoed the MASE pod originally for installation on the AH-64D Apache in 2003. Since then, the modularity of the pod has enabled tailoring for other helicopter platforms including the EH-101, Mi-17, Mi-24, AS550 Fennec, CH-47F Chinook (MASE in CHASE version), AS532 U2 Cougar Mk2, on F-16 fighters and C-130H transport aircraft.