Government orders 169 helicopters from Airbus for armed forces

These aircraft will be distributed between the Army, the French Navy and the Air and Space Army. Deliveries will begin in 2027.

The French government formalized the order to Airbus of 169 H helicopters 160 M “Cheetah” intended for the armed forces. A material and service contract of billion euros in total on the long term, since between the development of the devices and their maintenance, it will cover a period of 15 years.

“The contract includes the whole: development, production and support so it’s is fundamental for Airbus Helicopters, explains this Wednesday evening on BFM Business Mathieu Louvot executive vice-president of Airbus Helicopters. On the helicopter market, you have to live both on the civilian market and the military market. a machine which is already very successful in the civilian market. And now it is a military reference version “.

A model that replaces five

These 169 devices “will be distributed among the Army (49), the French Navy (49) and the Air and Space (40) “for deliveries starting in 2027, specified the Ministry of the Armed Forces in a press release. They will replace Gazelle, Alouette III, Dauphin, Panther and Fennec helicopters, some of which have been in service for more than 30 years.

“What is very powerful in this contract is to be able to replace these five types which are different, which have different support systems, this creates a lot of complexity, a lot of stocks, by a single homogeneous type for the three armies (the Navy, the Air Force, the Army) and So it will be a great simplification, a lot of efficiency in the maintenance and operation of the devices “, continues Mathieu Louvot.

10 devices for the Gendarmerie

Eleven additional devices were also ordered, including ten H 160 for the National Gendarmerie, an order “decided within the framework of the support plan for the aeronautical industry, for an amount of more than 200 million euros “. This contract had already been mentioned by the government. The 11 e is intended for the General Directorate of Armament “to ensure the development flight tests, qualification of equipment and fu your weapons systems “, according to the ministry.

Long awaited and provided for by the Military Planning Law 2019 – 2025, the order of 160 devices for the armed forces should initially have been changed to 2022, but the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, had announced in 2019 having decided to bring it forward by one year. The choice of H 80 M, developed from H 160, recent civilian aircraft from Airbus Helicopters, as the technical basis of the single platform of the “Light joint helicopter” (HIL) program, had already been known since 2017.

2000 jobs and production made in France

“By ensuring the progressive replacement of five types of different devices, some of which have been in service for more than 30 years, the Cheetah will provide our armies with the means to carry out their missions more effectively for the next 40. This program perpetuates know-how and jobs at Airbus Helicopters, the European leader in civilian and military helicopters, “said Florence Parly, quoted in the press release on Wednesday.

This order from 169 Cheetah, “whose 16 prem iers in firm phase, is part of a global market of ten billion euros “which includes, in addition to the development and delivery of devices,” the supply of the support and training system “and” the maintenance in operational condition during ten years “, according to the ministry.

In addition,” the production of Guépard will irrigate the entire French aeronautical sector and will contribute to sustainably maintain more than 2000 jobs in France “, welcomed the Ministry of the Armed Forces, stressing that this contract secured” the industrial activity of the Airbus Helicopters site in Marignane for 15 next years “.

From the same source , this contract will also benefit “SMEs throughout the country with 49% of suppliers of H parts 160 settled in France, mainly in the south “.