The H160M Guepard (Cheetah) is a new medium-lift helicopter being developed by Airbus Helicopters for the French Army, Navy, and Air Force to perform multiple missions including commando infiltration, air intercept, fire support, and anti-surface warfare, under the Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger – HIL) programme. The French Army will receive 80 helicopters, while the navy and air force will receive 49 and 40 rotorcraft, respectively. The H160M helicopter will replace five legacy helicopter types in service with the three military services. Delivery is now scheduled for 2026, two years earlier than initially planned.
H160M is a military version of the H160 medium-lift utility helicopter, which was first unveiled at the Heli-Expo show held in Orlando, Florida, US, in March 2015. Based on a civil platform, the H160M will ensure simplified maintenance and reduced operating costs than the old-generation of rotorcraft in its class. The modular design of the H160 also allows for the integration of mission systems to configure the H160M platform for deployment in multiple missions. It will be equipped with cutting-edge technologies such as Blue Edge five-bladed main rotor, which can reduce the acoustic signature by 50% and increase the lift by 100kg when compared to conventional rotor blades.
The helicopter will also feature a Spheriflex bearingless main rotor hub, which is designed to minimise weight and optimise damage tolerance. Its main rotor will have a diameter of 13.4m. The tail assembly will include a canted Fenestron anti-torque tail rotor. H160M’s undercarriage will feature a tricycle-type landing gear with a nose unit and two main units. The nose wheel will be fitted with twin wheels, while the main units will be installed with a single wheel unit each. The H160 Guepard will be powered by two Safran Arrano turboshaft engines supplied by Safran Helicopter Engines.