On June 4, the German Navy ( Deutsche Marine) took delivery of the first NH NATO-Helicopter-90 Sea Lion naval multi-purpose helicopter. This medium-sized helicopter will replace the Sea King Mk 41 and take over all of its missions, including rescue at sea. The surface fleet can also use the Sea Lion for reconnaissance. The handover was from the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) to the German Navy. The naval inspector (Chief of Staff), Vice Admiral Andreas Krause, had already approved this process on May 27. An official ceremony for the commissioning of the Sea Lion with the Naval Forces is scheduled for June 25. The German Naval Aviation Squadron 5 currently has three Sea Lions in the Nordholz base. It is planned to procure a total of 18 NH90 Sea Lions for the Bundeswehr.
In total, 18 Sea Lions have been ordered for the German Navy, with deliveries expected to be completed in 2022. The selection of the Sea Lion as the successor to the Sea King was made in March 2013 and the corresponding contract was signed in June 2015. When deployed, NH90 Sea Lions will take on a wide range of roles including search and rescue (SAR), maritime reconnaissance, special forces as well as personnel and material transportation missions. In addition to its land-based use, the Sea Lion will also operate on Type 702 (Berlin class) combat support ships. The fly-by-wire flight controls of the NH90 Sea Lion reduce the crew’s workload thanks to its high precision and ease of use, which particularly come to the fore in over-water hovering, even in poor weather conditions.
The abbreviation NTH stands for “Naval Transport Helicopter,” in contrast to the TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter), the army version of the NH90. Five nations are already using the naval NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter). The NH90 Sea Lion shell is manufactured from advanced, high-strength composite materials. This offers optimum protection for the crew thanks to its excellent crash behaviour. They have already completed more than 30,000 flying hours with the 69 helicopters delivered so far: in humanitarian and SAR and military missions on land and on board naval vessels. Altogether 129 NH90 NFH helicopters have been ordered; the total for all NH90 models comes to 515. The whole NH90 fleet comprising 296 helicopters delivered so far has already completed over 120,000 flying hours.
The NHIndustries NH90 is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multi-role military helicopter. It was developed in response to NATO requirements for a battlefield helicopter which would also be capable of being operated in naval environments. The NH90 was developed and is manufactured by NHIndustries, a collaborative company, which is owned by Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo (formerly AgustaWestland) and Fokker Aerostructures. The NH90 has the distinction of being the first production helicopter to feature entirely fly-by-wire flight controls. The first prototype conducted its maiden flight in December 1995; the type first entered operational service in 2007.