- NHIndustries NH90
NH90 A NH90 of the German Army Role Medium transport/utility helicopter Manufacturer NHIndustries First flight 18 December 1995 Introduction 2007 Status In production, being delivered Primary users German Armed Forces
Spanish Armed Forces
Italian Armed Forces
French Armed Forces
Unit cost €16 million
The NHIndustries NH90 is a medium sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter manufactured by NHIndustries. The first prototype had its maiden flight in December 1995. To date sixteen nations collectively ordered over 573 helicopters with deliveries starting in 2006.
Design and development
In 1985 France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom teamed to develop a NATO battlefield transport and anti-ship/anti-submarine helicopter for the 1990s. The United Kingdom left the team in 1987. On 1 September 1992, NH Industries signed an NH90 design-and-development contract with NAHEMA (NATO Helicopter Management Agency). This agency represented the four participating nations: France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Portugal later joined the agency in June 2001. Design work on the helicopter started in 1993. The first prototype, PT1, made the type's first flight on 18 December 1995. The second prototype, PT2, first flew on 19 March 1997 and the third prototype, PT3, on 27 November 1998.
The NH90 has been developed in two main variants: the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH). However, many of the customer countries have requested specific changes for their NH90s. The programme had some technical and funding problems in the 1990s. Then the partner nations placed a large production order for 366 helicopters in June 2000. This was soon followed by a series of orders from Europe, Asia, and Australia.
The NH90 was initially intended to be produced at three exporting assembly lines; Cascina Costa in Italy for AgustaWestland, Marignane in France and Donauwörth in Germany for Eurocopter. The Nordic and Australian contracts stipulated production locally (the Nordic ones at Patria in Finland and the Australian ones in Brisbane).
The programme ran into a 2 year production delay, and the first NH90s were delivered by late 2006. The type certification for the Finnish helicopters was finally approved on 19 February 2008.
In 2001, three Nordic countries signed purchase orders, Sweden placed an order for 18 helicopters (with option to buy additional seven), Finland for 20 helicopters, and Norway for 14 helicopters (with option to buy additional ten).
NH90 is also a candidate for the Norwegian All Weather Search and Rescue Helicopter (NAWSARH) that is planned to replace the Westland Sea King Mk.43B of the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 2015. The other candidates for the NAWSARH contract of 10–12 helicopters are AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin, Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, Eurocopter EC225 and Sikorsky S-92. As of 2009 Norway, following programme delays, have not received a date for the delivery of its helicopters.
In August 2003, Greece ordered 20 NH90s with an option for 14 more. Three aircraft have been delivered to the Greek armed forces by November 2011. These are being used for flight and maintenance training for the Greek Armed Forces.
In 2005, Australia ordered 12 to replace outgoing Army UH-1 Iroquois. The number was revised in June 2006 when the Australian Defence Force announced plans to replace its UH-60 Black Hawk and SH-3 Sea King fleets. with an order of at least 34 additional NH90s, taking their total order to 46; four manufactured in Europe, 42 manufactured locally at Australian Aerospace (a Eurocopter subsidiary) in Brisbane. In Australian service, the NH90 will be known as the MRH 90, where 'MRH' stands for Multi Role Helicopter.
The Netherlands, one of the original supporters of the programme, has 20 units on order. However, due to design changes, the helicopter is too heavy as of 2009 to be used in combination with the Dutch frigates for which they were explicitly ordered. It is unclear what additional changes need to be made to make them suitable for the Dutch primary role.
In July 2006, the Saudi Government signed a contract to purchase 64 NH90s. In July 2006, the New Zealand Government signed a contract to purchase 8 NH90s (plus 1 extra for spares) to replace their Air Force's fleet of UH-1 Iroquois. On 20 June 2007, during the Paris Air Show 2007, Belgium signed the contract for 10 NH90s (4 NFH, 4 TTH + 2 options) and also became the sixth nation to join NAHEMA. On the same day, the German Army and the Luftwaffe placed an order for 42 additional NH90s.
The first NH90s were delivered by late 2006 to the German Army. These were followed by Italian and Finnish helicopters in 2007. Later during 2007, the Italian and French navies started to receive their NFH versions and the first Swedish NH90s were also delivered. On 18 December 2007 the first two MRH 90 aircraft were delivered to the Australian Defence Force. The Royal Netherlands Navy got its first NH90 NFH in April 2010. Norway started to receive their NH90s in November 2010.
Concerns over performance
According to a 2010 Bild report, German Army experts deem the helicopter to be utterly unusable for the transportation of combat troops. Among other things they complained that the seats are only suitable to carry 110 kg (240 lb) maximum weight—not enough for a fully equipped soldier. Weapons cannot be sufficiently secured during transport. The floor is too weak and can be damaged by dirty combat boots. The helicopter can only land on firm ground, with obstacles not exceeding 16 cm (6.3 in). Troops carrying full equipment cannot board/leave the helicopter, as the access ramp is too weak. Adding a doorgun is not possible due to the lack of space. In response to this article, the German Defense Ministry proclaimed that the report in question referred to a prototype version, and not to the production model, the specifications for which were not even finalised at the time of the report. The prototype evaluation and its results were described as a normal procedure in an ongoing design process.
On 20 April 2010, an Australian Defence Force MRH-90 suffered an engine failure near Adelaide. Only one engine was affected and the helicopter was landed safely at the Edinburgh base. The manufacturer has sent personnel to Australia to investigate the failure. On 18 May the ADF announced that all of the Australian MRH-90 fleet were grounded due to engine issues since the 20 April incident. Flights resumed in July 2010.
NFH: NATO Frigate Helicopter
The primary role of the NFH version is autonomous anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface unit warfare (ASuW), mainly from naval ships. These aircraft are equipped for day and night, adverse weather and severe ship motion operations.
TTH: Tactical Transport Helicopter
The primary role of the TTH version is the transport of 20 troops or more than 2,500 kg of cargo, heliborne operations and search & rescue. It can quickly be adapted to MEDEVAC/CASEVAC missions by fitting up to 12 stretchers or cargo delivery capability
Additional roles include medical evacuation (12 stretchers), special operations, electronic warfare, airborne command post, parachuting, VIP transport and flight training.
The abbreviation TTT (Tactical Troop Transport) is used for Finnish and Swedish TTHs in some contexts.
- Australian Army: 46 MRH 90 (TTH), 12 delivered as of 2011 with the remainder to be delivered until 2015.
Finnish Army: 20 TTH (SAR)
The NH90s in service in the French Armed Forces (both NFH and TTH versions) will be named "Caïman".
- Hellenic Army: (Total 20 ordered) 16 TTH, 4 TTH (Special Operations) + 14 TTH (in option)
- Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare): 1 TTH/CSAR (in option)
- Italian Army: 60 TTH
- Italian Navy (Marina Militare): 46 NFH, 10 TTH (with some NFH features such as Automatic Folding Blades)
- Royal Netherlands Navy: 12 NFH
- Royal Netherlands Air Force: 8 T-NFH (NFH adapted for transport tasks)
Both types are part of the Defence Helicopter Command (Defensie Helikopter Commando)
- Royal Norwegian Air Force, 334 Sqn: 6 NFH (ASW) operating from the Fridtjof Nansen class frigates of the Royal Norwegian Navy
- Royal Norwegian Air Force, 337 Sqn: 8 NFH (Coast Guard) replacing the Westland Lynx Mk. 86
- Royal Air Force of Oman: 20 TTH models with an enhanced power plant ordered for tactical transport operations and search & rescue operations. They are expected to be delivered in 2008.
- Portuguese Army: 10 TTH
- Total of 104 on order distributed as follows. The first delivery was in 2010 with 45 helicopters. Spain will have a final assembly line operational at Albacete.
- Swedish Air Force: 13 High Cabin Version, 5 High Cabin Version (ASW)
Data from International Directory
- Crew: 2 pilots (and possible sensor operator on NFH)
- Capacity: 20 troops/12 stretchers/2 NATO Pallets or 4,000 kg (8,818 lb) external slung load
- Length: 16.13 m (52 ft 11 in)
- Rotor diameter: 16.30 m (53 ft 6 in)
- Height: 5.23 m (17 ft 2 in)
- Empty weight: 6,400 kg (14,100 lb)
- Useful load: 4,200 kg (9,260 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 10,600 kg (23,370 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01/9 turboshaft, 1,662 kW (2,230 shp) each, or:
- Powerplant: 2× General Electric T700-T6E turboshafts, 1,577 kW (2,115 shp) each
- Maximum speed: 300 km/h (162 knots, 186 mph)
- Range: 800 km, 497 mi (TTH); 1,000 km, 621 mi (NFH) ()
- Service ceiling: 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 8 m/s (1,574 ft/m)
- Missiles: anti-submarine and/or air to surface missiles (NFH version), 2x door gun
- European defence procurement
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- AgustaWestland AW101
- AgustaWestland AW159
- Mil Mi-17
- Mil Mi-38
- CH-148 Cyclone
- Eurocopter EC 725
- Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma
- Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk
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- ^ Image Galleries 2007 - Department of Defence
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- ^ Frawley, Gerald. "NH Industries NH 90". The International Directory of Military Aircraft, 2002/2003. Fyshwick, Act: Aerospace Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-875671-55-2.
- NH90 page on NH Industries' site
- NH90 page on Royal New Zealand Air Force site
- NH90 page on airforce-technology.com
- "NH90: Europe’s Medium Helicopter Contender". defenseindustrydaily.com
- "MH90 vs. CH148: German Navy to decide soon on their new Maritime Helicopter". defpro.com
- "Eurocopter rejects criticism of NH90 helicopter by ‘secret report’". defpro.com
- www.marinehubschrauber.de. Homepage for the MH90-NG (German NH90 NFH Variant)
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