France-based aeronautics company Airbus’ second prototype of the NH90 Sea Lion naval multi-role helicopter has completed its maiden flight.
The aircraft took off from the company’s Donauwörth site in order to begin its first flight on 24 November.
The second prototype of the helicopter was commissioned by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr).
Airbus’ helicopter manufacturing division Airbus Helicopters will now enter a development testing phase following the flight, which is expected to continue for several months and focus on avionics and software.
Activities relating to the qualification of the delivery configuration will begin over the course of 2018 after additional modifications have been made to the prototype.
Airbus’ first prototype of the NH90 Sea Lion-series production aircraft recently entered final production, which is slated to run simultaneously with the qualification.
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The initial Sea Lion prototype previously commenced its on-schedule maiden flight at Airbus Helicopters’ facility in Donauwörth in December last year.
The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) have placed an order for a total of 18 NH90 Sea Lion helicopters.
Delivery of the aircraft to the German Navy is slated to begin at the end of 2019, while with the final unit is scheduled to enter service in 2022.
The aircraft is expected perform a wide range of functions once operational, including search and rescue (SAR) operations, maritime reconnaissance and special forces missions, as well as personnel and materiel transportation tasks.
The NH90 Sea Lion is intended for deployment on-board the German Navy’s Type 702 Berlin-class combat support ships.
It will replace the traditional Sea King Mk41 helicopter fleet and is anticipated to help improve the navy’s overall operational capabilities.