This second helicopter was received on March 27, 2023, at the Babcock site in Cannet-des-Maures. It is the second of six aircraft ordered in 2020 and 2021 by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) from Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines under the 2019–2025 military programming law (LPM). These six H160 helicopters will take over from the Cayman Marine, Dauphin, and Panther on public service missions and intervention from land, in particular Secmar (Search and Rescue or Secours maritime), allowing the deployment of helicopters on board Navy ships as well as making them available to fulfill their primary mission of air-sea combat helicopters.
Their deliveries, which began in 2022, will run until the end of 2023.
The feedback on the use of these helicopters and their support systems will contribute to the development of the military version of the aircraft, the H160M “Cheetah” of the Light Joint Helicopter (HIL) program, also led by the DGA. These six H160 helicopters, specially configured for search and rescue at sea, will be gradually deployed from mid-2023 at the French Navy’s air bases at Lanvéoc-Poulmic in Brittany and Hyères in Provence, as well as at Cherbourg airport. The delivery of this second H160 helicopter will in particular allow the Navy to continue the experiments in progress while ensuring the training of future operational crews.
Manufactured by Airbus Helicopters with additional mission adaptation by Babcock, these H160s are notably equipped with a winch, the Euroflir 410 optronic system from Safran Electronics & Defense, and modular cabins, allowing an optimized layout for missions of state action at sea (AEM). These helicopters will be maintained in operational condition by Babcock as part of a partnership with Airbus Helicopters and Safran Helicopter Engines. This partnership will ensure a high level of aircraft availability, necessary for the permanence of the sea rescue mission on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, as well as in the English Channel and the North Sea. They will be certified for flying with night vision binoculars, which are necessary in particular for night missions.