The French Armament General Directorate (DGA), in partnership with Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines, is set to deliver four H160s to the French Navy.

These four H160 helicopters, which will be used for search and rescue missions, will be operated by the French Navy from 2022 for ten years.

With this interim fleet of H160s, the navy will ensure the continuity of these critical missions as the Alouette III is set to retire from service pending deliveries of Guépard.

Airbus Helicopters and its partners will also support the fleet with availability and performance commitments.

Additionally, the operational feedback from the French Navy will be monitored to benefit the design of the military version of the H160, as well as its support system.

Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said: “We are sure that the improved situational awareness, increased pilot assistance, and visibility that the H160 provides will prove to be a valuable asset for their critical and demanding missions.

“Our industrial partnership with Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines will allow us to ensure the highest level of availability for the French Navy and we are honoured to have been entrusted with this mission.”

The next-generation medium twin-engine aircraft H160 is powered by Arrano engines and has been designed to be a modular helicopter.

It will address various missions that range from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services. The entry of the aircraft into service is planned later this year.

First deliveries of the modular military version, the H160M are set to take place in 2026.

A total of 169 H160Ms are expected to be part of the Joint Light Helicopter programme and will replace five types of helicopters in service in the French Armed Forces.

Last October, Dassault Aviation delivered the first two ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft upgraded to ‘standard 6’ to the French Navy.