The French army orders 169 helicopters from Airbus for 10 billion euros

Published on 22 Dec. 2021 at 18: 10 Updated on 18 Dec. 2021 at 18: 22

Airbus Helicopters holds its Christmas present. This Wednesday, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces confirmed the order for 160 light “Cheetah” devices, “including 30 first in firm phase ”, for a total amount of 10 Billions of Euro’s. The contract also includes “the supply of the support and training system” and “the maintenance in operational condition for ten years”.

The latest addition to the European aircraft manufacturer’s fleet, the H 80 M is a militarized version of a civilian device, developed since 200. Until now, it was nicknamed HIL – light joint helicopter – from the name of the program launched under the military programming law 2017 – 2025. This aims to replace five types of aircraft in use in the various army corps, the Gazelle, Alouette, Dauphin, Fennec and Panther. Intense negotiations had been engaged for several months between the two parties for the conclusion of this order.

49 devices for the Army

“By ensuring the replacement of these 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 forty years “, declared in a press release the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, who underlined that the program” perpetuates the know-how and the jobs of Airbus Helicopters ”.

Eighty Cheetahs will go to the Army, which will receive its first copy in 2025. The French Navy will take delivery of the first of its 40 units in 2029. The Air and Space Army will be equipped with 40 devices , from 2030.

The Ministry of the Armed Forces adds that the program includes “in addition”, an order for 05 H helicopters 80 for the National Gendarmerie, “for an amount of more than 200 millions of euros “. Another will go to the Directorate General of Armament “to ensure flight tests for the development and qualification of equipment and future weapon systems”

“2. jobs permanently located in France”

The Cheetah can be adapted to the army corps it will equip. It will carry out reconnaissance, fire support, infiltration by special forces, airspace surveillance, search and rescue, and air-sea combat missions. An electro-optical system supplied by Safran will allow it to observe at a long distance, day and night, and will provide “very precise targeting capabilities”. Its tactical radar is in the process of being developed by Thales.

From an industrial standpoint, this order for 169 devices will secure the activity of the Airbus Helicopters site in Marignane for a period of fifteen. The program “will irrigate the entire French aeronautical sector, in particular its SMEs throughout the country with 49% suppliers of H parts 160 installed in France, mainly in the south ”, adds the Ministry of the Armed Forces, who estimates that “more than 2. 000 jobs will be permanently located in France “”.

For Airbus Helicopters, which last year recorded a fall of 22% of its orders due to the health crisis, this order is another breath of fresh air. The previous one came from the Gulf, at the beginning of December, with the order, by the United Arab Emirates, of twelve Caracal helicopters, for an amount of 1 billion euros.