Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Today, Thursday, October 24th, the contract signed in June 2015 between the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) and the industrial consortium NHI (Airbus, Leonardo and Fokker) in Donauwörth, Germany, in accordance with the schedule, was slowly completed: Airbus Helicopters today handed over the first NH90 Sea Lion helicopter to the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Utilisation of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) in Donauwörth. Two more helicopters are to follow by the end of the year. The German Navy expects a total of 18 of these helicopters by 2022.

The tasks of the Sea Lion, which is to replace the See King Mk41 helicopter in the Navy, include the search and rescue service (SAR), reconnaissance, personnel and material transport and the deployment of special forces. The Navy will operate the Sea Lion land-based. It will also be able to operate from board the 702 class (Berlin class) task force supplies. The NH 90 See Lion's multi-role and growth capability will increase the deployment options for the German Navy. Improved sensors and more powerful navigation and communication equipment, including a time-adapted military friend and foe detection system (IFF), fly-by-wire electronic control and its manufacture from modern, highly resilient fibre composites are key features.

"The largest part of the development of the NH90 variant Sea Lion was the integration of the Bundeswehr and naval communication devices as well as the GPS-supported navigation systems according to civilian procedures and the necessary software update of the NFH mission system. The greatest challenge from the industry's point of view was the highly complex organisation and process landscape of the NH90 programme. The large number of international agencies, departments and industrial companies involved required an extremely high and time-consuming coordination and management effort and led to unplanned activities". Stated Airbus Helicopters.

Video of the first flight of the Sea Lion on 08 December 2016 (Video: Airbus Helicopters)

According to Airbus, 90 helicopters of the naval version of the NH 90 have so far been delivered to the nations participating in the programme. Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Italy use the NH90 NFH for SAR missions, while the Netherlands and France also use it for anti-piracy and disaster control missions. France (where it operates under the name 'Caiman'), Italy and the Netherlands also operate the helicopter in ship-based missions.

„Ich bin stolz auf unsere Teams, die es geschafft haben, die anspruchsvollen Terminvorgaben unseres Kunden zu erfüllen. Die kontinuierliche Unterstützung auf Kundenseite war dabei ein wichtiger Erfolgsfaktor“, berichtet Wolfgang Schoder, CEO von Airbus Helicopters Deutschland. „Im Sommer haben wir erfolgreich mehrere Demonstrationsflüge unter Beteiligung von Marine und BAAINBw absolviert, um die Fähigkeiten des Sea Lion für Such-, Rettungs- und Spezialkräfte-Missionen zu verifizieren. Ich bin überzeugt, dass die Deutsche Marine das Potenzial der neuen Hubschraubergeneration nun voll ausschöpfen kann, und wir werden alles tun, um der Sea Lion-Flotte die bestmögliche Unterstützung zu bieten.“

On the 8th of November the takeover of the lake Lion by the naval aviators is planned. In June, the maintenance trainer from Reiser Simulation und Training GmbH was handed over at his station in Nordholz (ESuT reported).

This not only fulfils an expectation for the commander of the naval aviaton. In the Marineforum 11/2019 he argues: "... we need naval aviation forces that close the gaps in the operational flotillas and bring the capabilities of the moving fleet to bear." Captain Thorsten Bobzin is clear about this: "On the one hand, there is the need to grow up even faster after the long downturn and to make even greater technological leaps than our processes allow. On the other hand, the lack of infrastructural and personnel capacities is an obstacle to adequate support for the projects already planned".

In this sense, today's handover is an important milestone.

Hans Uwe Mergener