Airbus showcases Guépard H160M Joint Light Helicopter for French armed forces
Airbus showcases Guépard H160M Joint Light Helicopter for French armed forces

Airbus showcases Guépard H160M Joint Light Helicopter for French armed forces

The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the launch of the Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger; HIL) programme has been brought forward to 2021. The HIL programme, for which the Airbus Helicopters’ H160 was selected in 2017, was initially scheduled for launch in 2022 by the current military budget law. Launching the programme earlier will enable delivery of the first H160Ms to the French Armed Forces to be advanced to 2026. During a visit to the Airbus Helicopters headquarters, the Minister also revealed the full-scale mock-up of the H160M that will be presented on the Ministry of the Armed Forces stand at the next Paris Air Show. The helicopter was also given its official name and will be designated as “Guépard” (“Cheetah”) by the French Armed Forces.

Airbus showcases Guépard H160M Joint Light Helicopter for French armed forces
Airbus showcases Guépard H160M Joint Light Helicopter for French armed forces

Under the HIL programme, the H160M will replace all helicopter types in the French military except for the NHIndustries NH90, Airbus Helicopters Tiger, and Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal. The army will be the largest customer with 80, with the navy getting 49 and the air force 40. Dubbed Guépard (Cheetah), the H160M is derived from the civil variant of the helicopter that was developed from the X4 and first launched at the Heli-Expo show in Florida in 2015. The H160 is billed as a 160 kt-capable helicopter that can carry 12 passengers at distances of up to 120 n miles (222 km) (or a 450 n mile range with 20-minute reserve for tasks such as search and rescue). The new helicopters are expected to cover a variety of missions, including missions of armed reconnaissance, fire support, infiltration of Special Forces or medical evacuation for the Army, anti-ship, naval protection or maritime rescue missions for the Navy, and to provide airspace protection, search and rescue, deep action or intelligence missions for the Air Force.
Airbus showcases Guépard H160M Joint Light Helicopter for French armed forces
Airbus showcases Guépard H160M Joint Light Helicopter for French armed forces

The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter, enabling its military version, with a single platform, to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare in order to meet the needs of the army, the navy and the air force through the HIL programme. These include the noise-reducing and performance-enhancing Blue Edge main rotors designed to cut the noise signature by 50% (3 dB) and increase the lift capacity by 100 kg compared with conventional blades. The main rotor assembly is centred on the Spheriflex bearingless main rotor hub, which reduces weight and increases damage tolerance. Heavier (6 tons), faster (330 km/h top speed) and with a large array of weapons, the Guépard is due to replace several decades-old helicopters within the three branches of the French military, such as the Gazelle, the Fennec, and the Dauphin/Panther. It will be powered by the Safran Arrano engine, which outputs 1,100 shaft horsepower.

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