The Joint Light Helicopter (hélicoptère interarmées léger – HIL) programme was approved by the French state to meet two objectives: to replace the five fleets of helicopters that are in service in all three branches of the French armed forces; and to implement overall improvements to maintaining the fleet in operational condition (maintien en condition opérationnelle – MCO). The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has announced that the launch of the Joint Light Helicopter programme has been brought forward to 2021. The helicopter was also given its official name and will be designated as “Guépard” (“Cheetah”) by the French Armed Forces.
Weaponised and furnished for light attack operations, the H160M can quickly be reconfigured to perform missions ranging from commando infiltration to air intercept, fire support, and anti-ship warfare; up to two stretchers for search and rescue operations; as well as a fast rope system, cargo hook, and hoist that can equally be used for parapublic missions—a versatile, all-in-one asset for modern militaries. The H160 was designed to be a modular helicopter 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.
The first of a new generation of helicopter, the H160M derives from the EASA-certified H160. It benefits from a low cost of operations and optimised flight safety. The H160M incorporates the latest technological achievements in French aeronautics. To ensure a high level of availability while reducing operating costs, the H160M’s support and services needs were taken into account from early in its design phase. Innovative and simplified, the H160M’s support is based on the exploitation of data through analytics. In addition, the H160M can be integrated into a secured digital support environment.
In its army aviation role, the H160M is the perfect complement to an air-land force, reconnaissance, special forces operations, and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) operations. As a naval asset, the H160M is a formidable addition to anti-surface warfare, naval force protection, maritime security, maritime environment monitoring and intelligence, and search and rescue. The H160M’s power, range and equipment options make it an ideal aircraft for missions involving national airspace protection and search and rescue.