NH90: Europe’s Medium Helicopter Gets New Order Despite Issues

NH90 TTH and NH90 NFH

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October 6/23: Italy The Italian Navy has received its final NH90 military helicopter from Leonardo under a contract inked in June 2000. The order’s first delivery was made in 2011. Including the latest aircraft, Italy now operates 56 NH90 helicopters. The fleet comprises 46 of the NH90’s SH-90A NATO frigate/anti-surface warfare variant and 10 of the MH-90A transport variant.

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NH90: TTH & NFH (click to view full) The NH90 emerged from a requirement that created a NATO helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, established NH Industries (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AgustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker) to build the hardware. The NATO Frigate Helicopter was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx or Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NFH design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow. The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60 Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. Its combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor. As many business people discover the hard way, however, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset. Certification and acceptance […]

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