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Photo: Bundeswehr

On June 9, the "initial flight operations" began with the new marine helicopter Sea Lion. In the presence of the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Defense, Thomas Silberhorn, and his counterpart in the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Enak Ferlemann, the Sea Lion with page number 7953 lifted off in the morning with its naval crew from the base of the naval aviators in Nordholz. The machine is one of the three NH90 NTH (NATO Helicopter 90 Naval Transport Helicopter) that the Navy officially acquired on May 27 from the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr (BAIINBw) (ESUT reported).

The takeover of the Sea Lion will be celebrated with a ceremonial act on June 25, because its introduction represents a generation change in the helicopter operations of the Navy. It will replace the Sea King Mk41 multi-purpose transport helicopter that has been used since the mid-1970s. Like the predecessor, the machines of the Sea Lion will be operated in Naval Aviation Squadron 5 (MFG 5).

With the start of flight operations, the weapon system reached an important milestone on the way to the introduction of the weapon system. The way up to here was rocky. After the acquisition by the procurement authority on October 24, 2019, his grounding already followed in November (s. ESUT) because of "significant errors in the technical documentation. "It can start!" Tweeted the commandant naval aviator, sea captain Thorsten Bobzin, on June 7th. The helicopters are expected to be fully operational in 2023.


New multi-purpose helicopter

The NH90 NTH Sea Lion is the Navy's new multi-purpose helicopter. It goes back to the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NHF), which is used in the French and Spanish Navy as Caiman and also in the navies of Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway as well as Australia (there as Taipan). In Australia, the Navy uses six machines from a pool of 46 of the Australian army in a kind of timeshare.

Photo: Bundeswehr

The Navy will use the Sea Lion primarily for tactical transport tasks for personnel (including specialist and specialized personnel) and materials, maritime surveillance, military and civil search and rescue (SAR) missions by sea, (medical) evacuation and boarding. The NH90 NTH Sea Lion can accommodate up to 20 people. For SAR flights, he has a rescue winch and special medical equipment. Sea Lion can operate from land, sea and on-board class 702 service providers.

The Sea Lion's sensors include a 360-degree maritime surveillance radar, infrared and video cameras combined with a laser range finder, and sensors for enemy radars. A tactical console processes the sensor data and exchanges it with other ships and aircraft in the fleet. This equipment makes the NH90 NTH a reconnaissance helicopter.

The Sea Lion is also ideal for the use of boarding soldiers or special forces. If the helicopter enters a risk zone, it is armed with heavy machine guns. It is equipped with decoys for self-protection in such situations.

The budget committee of the German Bundestag approved the procurement of 18 naval helicopters NH-90 Sea Lion on March 4, 2015. The cost is just under 1.4 billion euros. By 2022, all aircraft should be on the Nordholz Naval Air Base.


blankOne pattern = synergy

In August 2019, the selection decision for the new Navy helicopter was made. From 2025, the NH90 variant Sea Tiger is to replace the Sea Lynx Mk 88A that has been used in the Navy since 1981. This enables the Navy to achieve capital synergies in training, logistics and maintenance. This also applies to the staff. Synergy effects in the development of processes as well as in logistical and technical solutions could arise across the Navy as well as across the Bundeswehr, which means that burdens can be shared. In addition, there were also international opportunities for exchanging experiences and know-how to cooperations.

Hans Uwe Mergener