The French Navy and DCNS have successfully conducted first deck landing trials with a Caiman Marine (NH90) heavy lift helicopter on board the French FREMM multi-mission frigate, Aquitaine.
The trials, organised by the French defence procurement agency (DGA), aimed to validate onboard maintenance and stowage facilities with a Caiman NH90 ten-tonne class heavy lift helicopter.
During the tests, the NH90 heavy lift helicopter carried out takeoffs and landings under various conditions and configurations, both day and night, as part of the formal qualification of FREMM frigates prior to deployment.
DCNS FREMM programme manager Vincent Martinot-Lagarde said that the Caiman helicopter first deck landing trials is an important milestone in the FREMM programme and the helicopter provides unprecedented capabilities for FREMM frigates.
The recent trials follow previous successful flight deck landing tests, validating the frigates' ability to launch and land Lynx five-tonne class helicopters, and has achieved formal qualification several months ahead of schedule.
France had ordered 61 NH90 aircraft, of which 27 are the naval version NFH (naval frigate helicopter), while the remaining 34 have been designated as the army version TTH (tactical transport helicopter).
The Caiman is designed to perform search and rescue, maritime patrol, vertical replenishment, troop transport, medical evacuation and amphibious support operations.
The FREMM family of frigates is being designed to counter threats from air, sea and land and is equipped with a sensor suite based on Herakles multifunction radar, naval cruise missiles and MU90 torpedoes.
The programme is Europe's largest naval programme, according to which France will acquire 11 frigates and a further ten vessels designated for Italy.
Launched in April 2010, the Aquitaine began sea trials in April 2011 and will soon undergo combat system trials, following which it will be delivered to French navy in July 2012.
Image: Caiman Marine (NH90) heavy lift helicopter provides unprecedented capabilities for French FREMM multi-mission frigate, Aquitaine.