The NH90 Sea Tiger, the German Navy’s anti-submarine warfare helicopter, achieved its maiden flight at Airbus Helicopters’ Donauwörth site in Germany. 

This marks a step towards the German Bundeswehr’s acquisition of 31 NH90 Sea Tigers, as they’re set to replace the ageing Mk88A Sea Lynx fleet – which has been in service since 1991 – in shipborne operations. Airbus Helicopters is set to enter a qualification phase, focusing on testing the helicopter and its systems. 

The new helicopters are scheduled for delivery starting at the end of 2025.

The NH90 Sea Tiger has advanced features, including a new electro-optical system and electronic support measures, supporting its role in reconnaissance, transport, and engaging targets above and below the surface.

Stefan Thomé, managing director of Airbus Helicopters in Germany, expressed pride in equipping the German Navy with the NH90 Sea Tiger. “We are proud to equip the German Navy with the NH90 Sea Tiger. Operating both the NH90 Sea Lion and the Sea Tiger will allow the Navy to further streamline its operations and maintenance. The NH90 Sea Lion, which is already in service with the Navy, has recently proven its capabilities during a first major rescue operation in the North Sea.”

According to GlobalData’s “The Global Military Rotorcraft Market 2023-2033” report, Airbus SE will capture a 19.6% share of the military rotorcraft market in Europe, with forecast revenue of $12.7bn over 2023–33, owing to its contracts for France’s H160M procurement and Germany’s H145M program, the NH90 Sea Tiger.

The NH90 Sea Tiger is designed to fulfil the specific needs of the German Navy for an anti-submarine warfare helicopter. Other key features include a dipping sonar, sonobuoys, and weapons such as torpedoes and missiles.

This maiden flight follows the delivery of 18 NH90 Sea Lion naval transport helicopters between 2019 and 2023. More than 90,000 flight hours have been completed by 135 naval NH90 helicopters worldwide.