FIRST NH90 STEP B helicopter

The Italian Navy has received the first NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) Step B fully operational naval helicopter from NHIndustries (NHI).

Designed to meet NATO staff requirements, the twin-engine, medium-size helicopter will be assigned to the Italian Navy’s 5th Helicopter Squadron at the Sarzana-Luni base.

A total of 56 NH90 helicopters have been ordered by the Italian Navy, of which 46 will be the NFH variant.

NHIndustries delegated managing director Xavier Poupardin said: "This NH90 Step B will allow its crews to fully take advantage of its tremendous mission system."

Featuring a wide range of significant advancements in mission capability including mission systems integration for both air-to-surface missiles, the NH90 Step B helicopter is fitted with Marte MK/2S and torpedoes, advanced satellite and encrypted communications, radar and avionics capability enhancements.

The NFH variant can support an array of missions such as anti-submarine warfare, anti- surface warfare, search and rescue, transport, special ops support, boarding, medical evacuation, maritime reconnaissance and anti-piracy, in all environments.

"This NH90 Step B will allow its crews to fully take advantage of its tremendous mission system."

The company will start retrofitting the five NH90 NFH in Step A meaningful operation capability (MOC) standard, which were delivered to the Italian Navy earlier, to bring them to the final configuration from 2014.

Capable of operating safely from a ship even in rough weather, the NH90 also features redundant fly-by-wire flight control system for reduced workload and enhanced flight characteristics of pilots.

Currently, more than 164 NH90 helicopters are operational with Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Greece, Oman, Australia and New Zealand.

NHIndustries, the prime contractor for the NH90 helicopter programme, is a joint venture company owned by AgustaWestland (32%), Eurocopter (62.5%) and Fokker Aerostructures (5.5%).

Image: A NHIndustries-built NH90 NFH helcipoter conducting mission. Photo: courtesy of NHIndustries.

Defence Technology