The European Heavy Lift Helicopter Program?
As the 2007 Paris Air Show drew to a close, France and Germany confirmed the rumors and signed a joint declaration of intent to set up a heavy-lift helicopter program. The French DGA procurement agency’s announcement lists an intended in-service date of around 2020. The new machines would be designed to carry personnel, light armored vehicles, and/or cargo, with good performance under a wide range of conditions including hot weather and high altitudes (both of which reduce helicopter performance due to thinner air). The project is known as Helicoptère de Transport Lourd (HTL) in France, and Future Transport Helicopter (same FTH in Deutsch) in Germany.
In terms of future force structure, these helicopters would replace Germany’s aging CH-53G Mittlerer Transporthubschrauber, and offer France a heavy-lift helicopter option for its future force that would sit above its planned NH90s and/or AS 532 Cougars. Both countries would rely on the forthcoming Airbus A400M tactical cargo plane and its 35-tonne capacity for larger loads or longer distances.
Note that some reports have stated that the new helicopter would be “capable of carrying a 30-tonne load.” Unless they’re planning to use gyrodyne technology or something similarly revolutionary, this is very, very doubtful. Meanwhile, the program may be morphing into an off-the-shelf competition, complete with international contenders:
Carry That Weight: The Specifications
Hello, Goodbye: Off the Shelf Contenders
Contracts and Key Events
Additional Readings & Sources
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