The German Navy has reportedly grounded approximately half of its helicopters after detecting a 20cm rip on the tail of one of the aircraft.
The navy has also suspended flight operations of the Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopter until further advancements are made.
According to German publisher Sueddeutsche Zeitung, one of the helicopters suffered a crack in its tail, and further investigations found similar rips on three other aircraft and ‘substantial damage’ to several others.
With none of them cleared to fly, 22 grounded Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopters are currently going through further maintenance tests, which will last until 2015.
The German Navy’s chief aircraft engineer has now launched new policies that include a lower limit on the maximum load to be carried by the aircraft and a reduction of the fleet’s flight hours by up to 75%.
The helicopters from the navy’s 5th naval aviation squadron were expected to be deployed aboard Lübeck from 18th September as part of the European Atalanta operation to fight piracy off the Horn of Africa.
Manufactured by British firm Westland, the Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopters are used to execute reconnaissance, submarine-hunting and transport operations.
They include the L-3 Communications AN/AQS-18 active dipping sonar, Sea Skua all-weather anti-ship missiles and Seaspray Mark 3000, as well as a range of depth charges.
Image: The German Navy’s Sea Lynx Mk88A helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Pajx.